A greater cause
Swingin’ Fore Soldiers supports military members
GOWRIE – Three years ago, former Gowrie resident Katelyn Johnson was trying to think of a way to give back. To give back to those that she felt deserved it the most: veterans and troops currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Giving back isn’t necessarily a new thing for Johnson, who said she works towards giving to homeless and other charities in the Des Moines area, where she now lives.
What is different is she wanted to bring her philanthropic acts closer to her hometown of Gowrie and surrounding areas of Webster County.
That is when she came up with the Swingin’ Fore Soldiers four-person best shot golf tournament. This year’s event, which is the third annual tournament will be held Saturday, June 12 at the Gowrie Municipal Golf Course.
“It all started in 2019, I love to help and give back and was thinking what is an area back home I could get the community involved? My initial though was the military,” she said. “I don’t think we do enough for the military. I don’t think we give back enough.”
In just a quick 30-day window, she put together a golf tournament and silent auction. That first year brought in nearly $4,500.
She also sought out help from Jim “Archie” Peterson from American Legion Post 431 in Gowrie to help assist her in where the money could best be spent.
“He mentioned there was non-profit organizations that are great, but not all of the proceeds actually end up in the hands of the troops. That was a big concern for me,” she said.
Together they decided to give some of the proceeds to Vets of Valor – a part of the American Legion that has a mission of assisting combat wounded soldiers; the Brushy Creek Honor Flight and then some of the proceeds were also used on individual gift cards and utility assistance for local veterans.
Peterson was more than willing to come aboard and give Johnson the advice she was seeking.
“Katelyn is a very caring person who wants to make a difference in the welfare of our active duty service personnel and the local veterans of military service to our country,” said Peterson.
Johnson said when it came time to plan last year’s tournament, she had only hoped to get a portion of the money they had raised the year before.
“I reached out to sponsors that had given the year before and I didn’t reach out any further than that,” she said. “I felt COVID had taken over so many small businesses, but people spoke up and wanted to be involved. We ended up with a packed tournament with people donating back all of their cash prizes, a successful silent auction and raised around $7,500 last year. We were shocked.”
Johnson said they gave to the Brushy Creek Honor Flights and Vets of Valor as they did the previous year, but switched the focus on helping those in the National Guard. She was able to use some of the funds to provide basic needs for those serving overseas such as $500 in toiletries for women and provided 10 Iowa soldiers serving in Iraq with a variety of supplements including protein powders and protein bars to help them with their efforts to stay fit and healthy.
Johnson also partnered with Exit Realty last November to give out over 70 hams and turkeys through Market on Market in Gowrie to veterans and active members of the military.
They were also able to help an 18 year old who had just finished boot camp through the Iowa National Guard and was injured while working on one of his vehicles.
The vehicle caught on fire and he sustained burns over the majority of his body requiring over 20 surgeries.
Through the Swingin’ Fore Soldiers funds, Johnson said they were able to send him a variety of household items and help to make a financial donation.
Plan to attend
This year’s Swingin’ Fore Soldiers tournament will be held Saturday, June 12. Although the golf tournament is currently full, Johnson said there is still plenty to do.
Kicking off the morning at 10:15 a.m. will be a presentation by the American Legion’s Color Guard. Followed by the National Anthem, Star Spangled Banner and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
There will be a 10:30 a.m. shot gun start.
Johnson said people are welcome to come to the Gowrie Municipal Golf Course, interact with the players as they come around the club house. There will be a DJ playing music throughout the day and food and drinks will be available at Mulligans.
For those that would like to compete there is a bags tournament beginning shortly after the golfers tee off.
There is no limit to the number of teams that can play. It is $20 for a two-person team.
A highlight to the day will be the presence of the Iowa National Guard.
“There will be six members bringing out some military vehicles and equipment so the public can come visit with them, check out the equipment and get their picture taken,” said Johnson. “Come tell the Guard thank you or maybe ask them questions.”
The silent auction items will be displayed all day for people to bid on. Johnson said there is a wide variety of items that have been donated by Gowrie businesses such as Liberty Market, Picket Fence, Addison James and more. There are several meat bundles available, gift certificates, cakes, cookies and a patriotic quilt donated by Kelly Black of Gowrie.
Johnson said she is still taking silent auctions items.
Rain or shine, Johnson is anticipating a great day for an even greater cause.
“Come spend time outside enjoying the beauty and feeling the wind on your face and the freedom we have to get to get out with your friends and families,” she said. “When you are out there, remember 24 hours around the world there is a solider sitting on a rock top protecting your freedom. They are on the front lines with bombs and bullets crossing their paths. That is what we have to remember, or freedom is anything but free. There have been many sacrifices made and we need to pay our respects and say thanks.”
Although next Saturday is the only physical fundraising event, Johnson said people are welcome to give at any time. Donations can be made at any Heartland Bank location or by contacting Johnson directly at 515 351 9573 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.