Volunteers in Support of our American Warriors
America’s Heroes Enjoying Recreation Outdoors (AHERO) is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) charitable organization serving injured and wounded military Veterans and active-duty members by providing outdoor and social activities that foster connection and fellowship. Founded in 2010 by Lee Stuckey of Montgomery, Ala., AHERO’s mission is to defeat the pervasive lure of suicide now claiming the lives of so many of our warriors. “We work to provide these bravest of Americans with the mentoring, resources and camaraderie that can help when they want to give up,” Stuckey said. “We’re offering alternatives to dwelling on despair. Whether it’s getting out into the sea air on a fishing trip, gathering at our AHERO lodge in the Alabama woods to hunt, or celebrating at an athletic or social event – being with others who are going through tough times like your own has a way of defusing loneliness and isolation.”
AHERO events are led by unpaid volunteers in partnership with patriotic individuals who inspire their communities to host specific activities. The organization, which began and continues to flourish in the Gulf Coast region, is national in scope, with the goal of engaging more and more U.S. communities as its membership of at-risk warriors grows.
For Jessica Smith, of Chambersburg, Penn., it was the suicide of her Navy Corpsman fiancé that spurred her to action. Her silent auction fundraiser led others to help her organize a community golf tournament in Fayetteville, Penn., benefitting AHERO. “I want anyone struggling to know that there are resources and people out there waiting to help you. Always remember that you are not alone,” Smith said. “AHERO volunteers are constantly working to engage participants across our military services as well as non-military citizens,” said USMC Lt. Col. David S. Glassman, Ret., a dedicated AHERO volunteer and Board Member. “And we’re proud to be able to say no one at AHERO is compensated for their efforts in any way other than with satisfaction for a job well done.”
Year to year, AHERO events – each a potential blueprint for communities to adapt into their own version of an AHERO fundraiser, include: AHERO Hunts: Three to five organized hunting weekends are scheduled through the year. Fishing 4 AHERO: Every Memorial Day weekend, AHERO’s fishing tournament attracts regional anglers old and young. Cash prizes, great food, music and fun make this memorable event the principle fundraiser supporting August’s Warrior Hook-Up. August Warrior Hook-up: Local boat owners, restaurants, businesses and residents volunteer their time and efforts to bring up to 30 heroes to Pensacola Beach for a weekend of community, fellowship and fishing fun in this signature AHERO event. Tough Mudders, Golf tournaments and more: Whether it’s gathering a team of runners willing to get down and dirty in a Tough Mudder, or participating in golf fundraising tournaments (now in Pennsylvania and Maryland) that challenge players to tee off on behalf of AHERO, the opportunity to advance the cause by organizing an event is open year-round to all.
Ashleigh McKenzie, national coordinator of all Tough Mudder fundraising races and a AHERO supporter, organized a team of volunteers to join her in running a recent Tough Mudder on AHERO’s behalf, in New Orleans. “The camaraderie among the people who come together for a short period of time but then immediately become part of the AHERO family team is amazing,” McKenzie said.
Alabama Coasting is proud to support the AHERO mission and the warrior heroes it serves. For more information on AHERO and AHERO events(or how to organize one in your community), visit www.aherousa.com or email [email protected].