Everyday Americans are making a difference, spreading the word, and benefitting our troops!
Suits! Get Your Boots On!
With Guest Blogger, Louise Thaxton, of Fairway Mortgage Co.
Several months ago, our team, Team Thaxton, decided to become “Suits in Boots” or “boot evangelist” for the Boot Campaign. Our personal goal was not only to purchase 365 pairs of boot, but also to inspire and influence other business professionals (“suits”) to “….get their boots on….” and become “Suits in Boots”. Our goal for our industry – the mortgage industry? 1,100 pairs of boots in 2011!
Friday is our regular boot day. But we use every opportunity to “evangelize” the business community. This past week, on Thursday, my team was hosting an event at the local Air Force Base along with other local businesses – our Team got their boots on for that event!
A few weeks ago, I wore my boots to a BNI (Business Networking International) meeting because I was the speaker that day. After I showed a video I had prepared with pictures of my team in their boots, one of the BNI members who works at a local pool company came to me and wanted to get HIS boots on! He was deeply impacted by the video because he has a brother who served in Iraq. He now wants inspire his company’s branches across the nation to get their boots on! We carry Boot Campaign flyers with us in order to provide interested individuals who wonder why we are wearing business suits – AND BOOTS!
I also reached out to the leaders and influencers – coaches, teachers, mentors, speakers and trainers in the mortgage industry and offered to purchase them a pair of boots. The only catch? They were to send me a video or picture in their boots and agree to be included in a video I would prepare and show to my company at our annual meeting. And then I asked them to “pay it forward” and buy someone else a pair of boots!
Little would I have imagined that at my annual meeting, after viewing the video, there would be such an outpouring of support and love and admiration for our wounded warriors from within my own company!
The CEO of our company, Steve “Jake” Jacobson, immediately pledged to purchase 170 pair of boots for the corporate staff, while individual branch managers, loan officers, and support staff, began to text me with their commitments – 5, 10, 20 even 50 pairs of boots pledged to be purchased.
I am still moved by my company’s act of selflessness and willingness to participate in this honorable cause. But I believe that all across America there are business professionals – just like within our company – who are eager to become involved in something that is bigger than our business challenges – the economy or even the national debt.
The Boot Campaign is that cause – When our heroes come back, let’s give back. SUITS ——–GET YOUR BOOTS ON!
By Boot Girl Myra
“Where were you when I came home from Vietnam?” a man asked me after I explained why I was wearing combat boots. My response, although very sincere, had to be heartbreaking for him. ‘I was a little girl when you came home” I replied. Seeing his disappointment I continued; “but I wish we as Americans had treated you better. You were, after all, sent into battle without a choice and you served your country. The least we could have done as a nation was welcome you home.” He was dumbfounded, tears welling up in his eyes, he said very quietly “thank you” and walked away.
Not ten minutes later I found myself talking to a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He’s a young man with a wife and three kids whose desire in life was to help people. He was a medic, sent to help the wounded. His training was all about saving lives, not inflicting a wound of death in combat. He came home a changed man, and his life hasn’t been the same since. Although he has good support and somewhat worked past his “demons” from his tour of duty, his life isn’t what he dreamed or imagined. Stricken with Gulf War Syndrome, he’s been treated for cancer and just last week was notified he had a 5 year life expectancy after they discovered tumors in his brain. We proceeded to talk about the importance of picking one or two things on his bucket-list and making it a goal to see or do them sooner rather than later. But after some time he concluded, “I’ll get to it but for now I have to provide for my family, they must have something when I’m gone.”
Since those conversations I’ve been mulling over some very hard truths about the cost of freedom. Like for instance while I’m nestled on my couch with my children, this man is working diligently to leave something for his, whom, he pointed out will graduate from high school without him around. I envisioned that Vietnam veteran arriving home to jeers, while as a little girl marching in the local city parade I received applause for my “pioneer girl” costume. Both served their country, I’m merely a consumer of the freedoms they were sent to protect.
We celebrate our independence in just a few weeks and this year I have a vastly different perspective; although I’ve always been patriotic. It’s sad and joyful at the same time. I am keenly aware that I have no clue about the realities of war and what it cost others to serve this country. I read Marcus Luttrell’s book Lone Survivor last summer and realize 6 years ago when you and I were out eating watermelon and enjoying fireworks, he was hunkered down in a cave, being hunted by the Taliban. The mere use of the word “hunted” to describe a human being gives me chills.
All of these thoughts bring me to the question I ask not only of myself but those of you who follow the Boot Campaign. Would you take the next 21 days and purposely tell a Vietnam veteran “welcome home”? Could you step out of your comfort zone and say the one thing they never got when they left a controversial war zone and came home? It’s amazing to me how healing the words “welcome home” can be, especially for those whose lives are altered, shortened or under-appreciated for their service. Step out of your comfort zone, and thank those who entered the war-zone for you, no matter what war, it was done with you in mind.
By Boot Girl Myra
In a recent phone conversation with my mom, things got unusually quiet. She was commenting on how much she appreciated attention being driven to value our military. Suddenly I could hear her crying, something she rarely does in public let alone on the phone. When I asked if she was alright, her response was something to the effect of “I hope someday you will tell others about my Uncle Dane.” People need to remember how horrific war is, even when the cause is perceived as for the good.
This Memorial Weekend, I wear my boots in remembrance of Uncle Dane, who lost his life on December 18, 1944, after injuries sustained from his attempt to escape the Palawan Prison camp in the Philippines. Over 78,000 Filipinos and Americans suffered through the Bataan/Corregidor Death March that began when the Americans and Filipinos surrendered to Japan on April 9th from Bataan and May 6, 1942 from Corregidor after months holding out and waiting on the promise of reinforcements. What followed in the 65 mile march north to a POW camp, became one of the most notorious and bone chilling stories coming out of the South Pacific. One-third of them lost their lives just on the walk alone. It is said that many who were “lucky” to survive the march and the ensuing three-year imprisonment in hard labor camps ended their lives within the first year of their return home. The psychological trauma suffered day in and day out for more than three years combined with extreme malnutrition and hard labor forced upon these exhausted men took their toll on them. And they did it to protect our borders here at home. The hard thing for me to comprehend is how little help was available to them upon their return home.
Nobody is drafted into the military these days. It’s a process someone chooses to do at-will. They don’t get paid much to step onto enemy territory to protect those of us stateside. A vast majority enlist because serving their country is their dream and passion. It’s not for everyone, but it benefits all. I love how Boot Girl Heather puts it, “while I know I was never meant to fight, it’s my job to support those who do.”
How much do you do to thank those who stand in harm’s way for you? What “memorial” do you pass on to those around you regarding our fallen heroes? Just yesterday I spoke with Louise Thaxton, a mortgage lender who decided to give her grandchildren a pair of combat boots, to remind each of them of the cost of freedom. No big deal right? Except she bought 15 pairs and in honor of her 16th granddaughter who is a newborn, she bought a pair for the baby’s daddy. I was amazed by her passion to make known to her family the value and the cost of freedom. Then in the very next sentence she said she just ordered 11 pair of boots to take on a business trip to give to friends at their annual company meeting. If you’re running a tally, that’s 27 pairs of boots. Last fall, she bought another 8ish pair to give to co-workers, and encouraged them to do something to thank a soldier. Soldiers are after all, the majority of the clients she helps in the third poorest state in the United States.
There’s a popular phrase “beauty from ashes” that is used to define something good that can come from something destroyed beyond recognition. Louise’s actions have become beauty from the ashes of war. Her simple but generous actions make it possible for those who return from war injured both in mind and body to get the help they need while doing her part to help the next generation remember the Dane’s of this world, who lost his life defending the life he loved as an American.
The excitement and anticipation building all week was almost unbearable. And all along we’ve seen a host of media coverage. But as the sun sets on this last weekend of April 2011 I’m almost certain people will head outdoors after suffering what is certain to be a T.V. hangover. My three teenage daughters DVR’d the Royal Wedding, to watch at a later time because, well, they’re teenagers and value their sleep. The only problem is the 5 hour recording has been played 3 times now, because it’s virtually impossible to gather them into the same room at the same time these days.
Thankfully for me, and for you too, there are plenty of other crowd-gathering events worth a little DVR time. Not because you want to skip the commercials, but so you can replay these events when family members decide to watch the wedding over and over!
Granger Smith, whom we told you about last week embarked on Easter Sunday on a 100 mile walk in combat boots to honor our men and women in the armed forces. He wasn’t even into day one when the reality of what our military do for us began to emerge for him, in the form of painful blisters, sun and wind burn. He quickly learned some new uses for things like deodorant, which can be applied to the feet to prevent sweating, and blistering. Oh the relief! The best part of his trip in boots was his amazing attitude. Although he was obviously tired to the core by mile 94 when we caught up with him, he was willing to sing for us live on the road during the 4/28 Get Your Boots ON Radio Show. He entered Ft. Hood Thursday afternoon after 100 miles to deliver a concert of appreciation. Lets hope he put his feet up and tuned in to the tele for a little down time after that heroic display of gratitude.
If you missed the big News event on Friday, don’t worry, we have coverage for you right here! After reading the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, NHS students at Whitehouse High School decided to take the Boot Campaign message to their classmates and challenge them to get their boots ON!Their three week initiative culminated with a student assembly where 148 of them received their boots. They may not realize it now, but that gesture will become important to the dozen or so seniors who are currently enlisted for military service after graduation.
You may have started your weekend with “frills” but you’ll end it with your dukes up! Move your little couch-potato self over to the floor and strike your best fighting pose as UFC 129 (Sat. 4/30 – Toronto) announces its support of the Boot Campaign and Lone Survivor Foundation! For the next month UFC is calling all fans to put their Boot Campaign boots ON for the UFC 130fight in Las Vegas May 28. You should submit to this request lest you find yourself tapped out on the couch come the end of May watching your DVR of the Royal Wedding again!
The staff of Austin Bank (Jacksonville, Tyler and East Texas) have their boots on to show our military men and women the respect that is due them!
You can join The Boot Campaign by purchasing your own pair of our branded custom military boots. Net profits go to our favored charities that care for our returning troops and their families.
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By Boot Girl Myra
What kind of grass do you have growing in your yard right now? We like to dream ours is St. Augustine but it’s mostly weeds at the moment. But not to worry, the pre-treatment for healthy grass will kill off the “fake” green in just a few short weeks as the grass begins to take root and spread across the yard. There are days in late-winter and early spring I wonder if the grass will ever take root, choke out the weeds and spread in time for summer enjoyment. The thing I love about grass is that it pretty much takes off on its own once the preliminary work is done. So much so, that my husband finds himself mowing the lawn more than once a week in the summer!
That visual totally describes recent activity at the Boot Campaign! It is after all, a grass-roots initiative. While a lot of ground work was put in to making this effort known Americans, it’s grabbed root, spreading like a wild-fire! All of a sudden there are people across the US taking the initiative to challenge friends and colleagues to get their boots on.
Granger Smith will likely wake up every morning this next week with grass in his hair to go along with a probable 5 O’clock shadow. He begins a 100 mile trek across Texas on Easter Sunday in Boots and like his song says he’ll be “Sleeping on the Interstate”. I’m thinking I’d like a shower after walking 100 miles, sleeping on the interstate, and wearing combat boots. But Granger will go the extra mile by delivering a concert to the troops at Ft. Hood come the end of his trek on Thursday, April 28.
If you prefer running in boots over walking check out Maurice Peterson’s challenge in the Penny Per Mile Marathon Pledge. He’s currently training for this marathon which takes place October 9th in Portland, Oregon. He’s pledged his support by giving the proceeds to the Boot Campaign! Here’s where he’s digging in for deeper support: it’s not just the miles he runs in the marathon that count but all the miles he runs training for the marathon! That’s about 1,000 miles people!
So after 100 miles walking in boots and 1,000 miles running in boots, one might get a little hungry and thirsty. Leave it to Rich Withee to take care of that! He hosted a bar-crawl last weekend in Pennsylvania. He challenged his friends to buy boots and join him at the event in support of troops. Their fund-raiser garnered $12,100 in funds raised to benefit the Lone Survivor Foundation, Boot Campaign (through boot purchases) and other charities that value military veterans! That’s 2,000 more than their goal!
When you look at the video provided by Louise Thaxton, you’ll discover Fairway Independent Mortgage Company did more than put boots on! It cost her time and money to gather all her partners and employees together to make the video. Her challenge? To see the mortgage lending business get their boots on with the goal of 1,100 pairs on the feet of people in the mortgage lending industry in 2011. It’s important enough to Louise that in less than a month she’s inspired to impact her sphere of influence. She commented in our blog Sole Food: “I appreciated this post about the difficulites faced by the men and women of our United States military. Because a great percentage of my work is with the military (mortgage banker in two military towns with focus on VA home loans), we see much of what you are talking about here. Thank you so much for what you are doing with the Boot Campaign! I ordered my very first pair of boots today after watching the interview on Fox News! And we have set a goal of how many pairs of boots we want to purchase this year! Go Boot Girls!”
Just yesterday I received an email from one of the Boot Girls listing all the events scheduled for the next 4 months (be sure to check our website and social media sites often for the schedule, you won’t be disappointed)! It’s spreading so rapidly, I can’t help but go back to the visual of a blade of St. Augustine grass. It takes only a few plugs to turn a brown plot of ground into a beautiful lawn, with just a little fertilizer and water. The Boot Campaign’s taking root all over the US now, and so many people finding it possible to give back with “more than the words of saying thank-you, it’s the tangible of doing something for our military” as Louise pointed out.
Send me your stories. I know many of you are busy telling someone about the boots you have on! I’d like to hear about your adventures as you walk across America with the grass rooted under your boots!
By Boot Girl Myra
It already happened! Forget about the end of the month when other royals may also be tying the knot, this one is right here in the good ‘ol USA! Boot Girl Heather and Derek Sholl got married this weekend. Given that Derek was one of the first musicians to put Boots ON, and create the Boot Campaign theme song “When They Come Back”, combined with Heather being an Original Boot Girl, it qualifies as a Royal Wedding in our book! Sign their guest book here
The term royal usually refers to a monarch, but in this case it’s to define a rare group of people who are set apart. Rather than inheriting this royal qualification, it is earned by giving up wedding shoes for boots. It also requires investing. Boots are an investment. Like you invest in the success of your marriage, when you put boots on, you invest in a brighter future of wounded military. What a great way to begin a marriage! From the get-go, you acknowledge those whose names you don’t know who serve and protect you every 24/7/365 of your married life!
Any bride who takes off the proverbial glass slipper on her wedding day, and puts herboots ON, deserves a special moniker as royalty. The Royal Boot Album starts today featuring two of our original Royal Boot Brides.
Be sure to send us your Royal Boot Bride photos and lets see the album grow!