By VAL OLIVAS, Four Points News
This Memorial Day weekend, Veteran Outdoor supporters and Steiner Ranch residents Shane and Jennifer Stevens are set to host the second annual Veteran Outdoors fundraiser the White Party on Saturday, May 24.
Austin-based Veteran Outdoors is a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor America’s wounded veterans’ patriotism and their sacrifice by providing quality hunting, fishing and outdoor-related excursions.
Earlier this month, VO sponsored double-leg amputee Dan Robles, and another soldier who saved his life, Creston Cherry — both of whom were injured in Iraq — for an excursion to Pandale, Tex. to hunt Texas Dall sheep rams. VO member and Steiner resident James Armer was part of that trip. VO provided clothing, weapons, food and shelter thanks to Austin businessman John Meadows, who offered the use of his private ranch and animals.
Over Christmas, VO also partnered with members of the University of Texas Golf Club to raise money to send a wounded warrior and his family of seven to Disney World.
VO’s goal is to raise public awareness about the therapeutic effects that being in the outdoors has on the mental and physical disabilities of America’s wounded men and women. VO also provides a platform for veterans to tell their stories in their own words.
Round Rock board member Toby Nunn became involved with the non-profit in 2010 after witnessing the positive impact VO had on soldiers he knew or with whom he had served. “I started volunteering my time and camera equipment to help with the outdoor adventures.”
The charity aims to surprise veterans by working with their families and medical providers to find the outdoor excursion that will make a lasting impact on them, according to Nunn.
Other excursions have included hunting white-tailed deer, wild hog and turkey. VO has courted wounded soldiers to South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida and California for regional hunting and fishing expeditions.
In 2013, VO spent 326 days in the field with 211 wounded veterans. Since 2008, 956 veterans have attended excursions.
Financing for the excursions has largely been provided by the organization’s founders, Cody Hirt and Brad Strittmatter.
Hirt took his brother-in-law and some of his army buddies out hunting after they returned from Iraq. He was so moved by the experience he enlisted Strittmatter to help start the non-profit, according to Nunn.
This VO fundraiser this weekend is open to the public and will feature auctions, dinner, cocktails as well as testimonials from veterans.
Guest appearances and performances by Jack Ingham, The Statesboro Revue and Emily Cousins are on the agenda as well.
Ticket prices begin at $100 with an extended opportunity to purchase VIP tables for larger donations. For more information, contact Toby Nunn at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Our whole purpose is to give back to those who gave,” said Nunn.