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THANKSUSA MARKS $9 MILLION MILESTONE

More than 3,000 children and spouses of U.S. troops awarded the gift of education

Mclean, VA – August 29, 2013 – ThanksUSA today announced that it has awarded more than $9 million to date in post-secondary school scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. troops. This milestone includes approximately 300 new scholarships awarded over the past week, totaling nearly $1 million in funds.

Since its founding in 2005 by sisters Rachel and Kelsi Okun, ThanksUSA has awarded over 3,000 scholarships to military families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“We were just girls – I was 10 and Kelsi was eight – when we started looking for a way to thank our troops for all they sacrifice in keeping us safe,” said Rachel Okun, now 17. “Over the past eight years, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who feel the same and who want to help support military families through ThanksUSA.”

“We understood the importance of a good education and wanted to share our blessings with the families of our service men and women,” added Kelsi Okun, now 14. “The gift of education is the perfect way to do so.”

The Okun sisters travel the country speaking with ThanksUSA scholarship recipients in order to introduce them to Americans through video profiles and speeches. ThanksUSA’s new videos will be released at the organization’s annual gala at Washington DC’s Newseum on September 25, 2013, hosted by Lara Logan of CBS News. Tom Brokaw will be honored at the gala as will Col. Lanier Ward, survivor of a critical battle in Iraq and inspiration for ThanksUSA. Senator Roy Blunt, who represents 74 Missouri scholarship recipients, will also be honored. Senator Blunt took a personal interest in ThanksUSA as a House Member discussing the program with the troops in Iraq during the formative years of the program.

Among this year’s award recipients is Donnice Roberts, proud widow of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Kevin Casey Roberts. Donnice is pursuing dual degrees in Education and Rehabilitation Services with the end goal of working within the military community.

“I am truly grateful to ThanksUSA for this generous scholarship. I want to honor my husband’s legacy by using my education to help fellow military families. My children are learning that even through tragedy, we can overcome and succeed. With your support, I will make a difference and I will succeed.”

ThanksUSA also announced today a continuing partnership with the world-record holding doubles tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan. The organization has established a nationwide Tennis Thanks the Troops campaign – a partnership with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) involving tennis pros, fans and local communities, and presents an online challenge called the “ ThanksUSA Treasure Hunt,” sponsored since 2008 by the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, which explore the nation’s history, culture and values.

As the battle in Iraq ends and the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, ThanksUSA plans to step up efforts to support the families of military personnel who are re-integrating into the workplace. Helping service members’ children and spouses advance their education and achieve successful careers will relieve the new pressures that challenge those who have returned home.

“Our troops and their families deserve our respect and our thanks for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 12 years,” said General George Casey, former Army Chief of Staff and ThanksUSA board member. “They have borne significant burdens to protect this country, and we cannot allow their contributions to be quickly forgotten. Their mission of defending us is, unfortunately, not over.”

About ThanksUSA
ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States armed forces. The organization provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel. For more information, visit www.thanksusa.org.
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USPTA

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2013

A Win for Military Families as ThanksUSA and U.S. Professional Tennis Association Partner to Provide Scholarships

Champions Lisa Raymond and Bob and Mike Bryan Join the Team

McLean, VA, 17 May 2013 – ThanksUSA and the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) are gearing up for their second annual Tennis Thanks the Troops fundraising campaign to support scholarships for the children and spouses of U.S. service men and women. With May recognized nationally as Military Appreciation Month, the two organizations will be recruiting the country’s USPTA Professionals, clubs, players and tennis fans in organizing tournaments and other special events to raise funds throughout Memorial Day weekend.

Tennis stars Lisa Raymond and Mike and Bob Bryan have returned for a second year to support the effort by participating in public service announcements promoting Tennis Thanks the Troops.

“Global combat operations are ending but the mission of our troops – to protect our nation and our freedoms – persists. As does our responsibility to continue supporting them,”said Bob Okun, chairman and CEO of ThanksUSA. “We are proud to thank our armed forces and their families for their daily sacrifices through the gift of education.”

ThanksUSA provides need-based, post-secondary scholarships to the children and spouses of active-duty personnel across all the Armed Forces, the National Guard and Reserves, as well as families of the fallen and wounded.

“Clubs with USPTA pros are developing creative events that will help ThanksUSA award 500 scholarships worth $1.5 million this year, helping make U.S. military families the real winners,” said Michele Stork, executive director of ThanksUSA.

Throughout Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27, participating USPTA Professionals at various facilities will collect a minimum voluntary donation of $5 from tennis players, professionals, members, guests and fans to support ThanksUSA. Facilities will have flexibility on their donation-collection options, including choosing among tournaments/contests, lessons and silent auctions, and can also hold fundraising events on other weekends throughout the year.

“There’s certainly a lot of attention on supporting those initiatives that help our troops of late and rightfully so,” said USPTA CEO John Embree. “As an association, we intend to do our part using pros who are community-minded and want to show their dedication to the military by making a valuable contribution to those efforts.”

Leading the charge are the San Diego District Tennis Association through its annual Tennis Fest and the Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth, Ga., with a Tennis Thanks the Troops Memorial Day Mixer. All participating facilities will be competing to raise the most money for the campaign, with the winner able to send their pro and one guest to the US Open in New York on Aug. 30.

For more information on the Tennis Thanks the Troops campaign, visit the Tennis Thanks the Troops webpage. Join the team and show your gratitude to our military men and women and their families!

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About the USPTA: Founded in 1927, USPTA strives to raise the standards of the tennis profession while promoting greater awareness of the sport. USPTA offers nearly 70 professional benefits to its more than 15,000 members worldwide, including certification and professional development. With more than 300 days of educational opportunities throughout the year, USPTA offers the most comprehensive continuing education program in the tennis industry. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit www.uspta.com.

About ThanksUSA: ThanksUSA is a non-partisan, charitable effort to mobilize Americans of all ages to “thank” the men and women of the United States armed forces. The organization provides college, technical and vocational school scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty status military personnel. For more information, visit www.thanksusa.org.

CONTACT:
Poornima Rimm, Director of Public Relations
USPTA
713-978-7782, ext. 125
Poornima.Rimm@USPTA.org

Michele Stork, Executive Director
ThanksUSA
703-855-4108
MicheleStork@ThanksUSA.org

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