From Mike Campbell, President of the Blue Angels Foundation (BAF)
The Blue Angels Foundation Ride Across America was conceived by Mike Price, Matt Prather, and Kathy Matejka, patriotic business leaders, and avid cyclists who are dedicating this ride to SAVE LIVES. EVERY DAY America loses 20 veterans to suicide…yesterday, today, tomorrow…more than 7,000 per year….to put this into context, this is more than we have lost in combat since 9.11! This is a national crisis that all of us can help slow down and optimally reverse. These men and women are America’s treasure…we owe them HOPE, and the opportunity to get back on track.
Your contributions will be matched up to $1,000,000 and 100% of your donation will go to support PTS protocol at either the Emory Veteran’s Center in Atlanta, Mass General Hospital’s Home Base in Boston, the Rush Medical Center in Chicago, or the UCLA Medical Center in LA.
Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit the Emory Veteran's Center to meet with our friends from 86Forty. I want to share the experience of meeting, Derrick, the wounded warrior that will be featured in the upcoming 2019 -2020 Blue Angels Foundation. Derrick is tall, handsome, and has no physical maladies that are visible. On the inside he suffers the "invisible wounds of war" after having participated in "hundreds" of special ops missions in Afghanistan. He is married to Samantha and has two late teen/college age daughters. He graduated from the inpatient two-week PTS protocol at Emory last September. Derrick asked me to pass on the following to the BAF family:
“Please tell your Board and all your sponsors and donors my story. Tell them that over the last several years I almost took my life. I was referred to the Emory Veteran’s Center and last September I completed the PTS protocol. This place literally has saved my life. The BAF has helped save my life!”
This is the WHY of what we do. This is WHY we ask people to donate. Their donations are a check, yes, but their check is literally SAVING LIVES!! In the busy "day to day" it is sometimes hard to remember or put into words the impact we are having each day. We do events, we raise money, we go back to our businesses and families. BUT each day our work is impacting people.
Share this story with your friends, associates, and sponsors. Collectively, we are all having a HUGE impact in SAVING LIVES. I thought it appropriate to share this story as the story is about the BAF Family—ALL of us, our Partners, our sponsors, donors, and guests who sacrifice time and treasure to make a difference. This is the spirit that makes America all she can be—taking care of our own—it is what we must do!
View the full letter here
*If you are interested in making an even GREATER impact please consider becoming a monthly donor to Wounded Warrior Project. You can sign up here
Meet the team!
Some people call this point in their lives, retirement - which sounds so unproductive to me. As I enter this chapter of my life, I see it as an opportunity….an opportunity to take the God given talents, experience and energy that was channeled into my business career and to “REDIRECT” it into a new direction. This trip, this adventure is an opportunity to do just that.
Along with my good friends Matt Prather, and Mike Campbell, President of the Blue Angels Foundation we will be embarking on a journey to cross the United States on bicycles.
My father was a Navy WWII veteran and I cannot think of a better way to honor his commitment than to ride and work for the cause of helping to eliminating suicides from our returning military soldiers.
View Mike's full bio here
Early in my career, I was taught an important saying: Learn, Earn and then Return. After spending my entire life in the first two chapters, I’ve turned my focus and energies toward the third chapter. Returning to those close to me, those in my community, and those in need is inspiring.
Unfortunately, America is losing 20 veterans every day to suicide; that’s more than 7,000 per year! To put that into context, the U.S. military has lost 6,800 service members in combat since September 11, 2001. We lose more veterans to suicide each year than we have lost in combat in 18 years. This is a national crisis and we are riding to raise awareness as well as needed funds.
Both Mike and I are avid cyclists and decided that riding across America would be that bold plan to combat that crisis and we’re dedicating our ride to the Blue Angels Foundation benefiting wounded warriors and their families through Wounded Warrior Project™.
View Matt's full bio here
Kathy Matejka has a degree in physical education with an emphasis on sports coaching and athlete performance development. After teaching in Turkey and Greece she transitioned to civilian work in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation divisions at Air Force installations in Germany. Relocated to the US, she completed a 14 year career at USA Triathlon, a member of the Olympic family of sports, where she served as Director of Event Services. That role supported over 4,000 sanctioned events, 300 volunteer race officials, led governance of the USA Triathlon regions and spearheaded the organization’s risk management matters.
With a professional background in teaching, coaching and program management, Kathy is glad to have transitioned to a consultant/expert role in Sport Program Risk Management but has never lost respect for the work of the US military members. Via MWR, Triathlon and supporting CISM athletics as a triathlon official it was a true honor to support active duty and retired military.
View Kathy's full bio here
We’ll begin our ride in Santa Barbara, CA on Sep 21st and plan to arrive in Charleston, SC on Nov 8th. The ride will encompass 3,400 miles through 11 states. We want to raise awareness in cities and towns along our cycling route. We also invite you to support us to help wounded warriors get the critical mental healthcare they need. That healthcare can be costly. So, our goal is to get 100 wounded warriors connected with potential life-saving treatment in 2020. That means we need to raise $500,000 dollars to help save 100 lives. We’ve been blessed by the Blue Angels Foundation which has guaranteed a match for every dollar we raise through our ride.
Follow us along our route by clicking on this link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1Vmdi_r0XnqTipdRxdYwZZidcSmtRTxbL&hl=en&ll=36.839844359256006%2C-106.63041199218753&z=5
Follow our social media page for photos, videos, and more updates from our ride!