MORE THAN $147,000 RAISED FOR THE SPECIAL OPERATION WARRIOR FOUNDATION
Katie Conner was just 12 when her dad, Army Special Forces Sgt. Major Bradly Conner, lost his life in Iraq in 2007. At the time, her brother was 14 and her sister, just 6. “When something this tragic happens at that age, that’s when your childhood ends,” she says. And that’s when the Special Operations Warrior Fund (SOWF) steps in.
The SOWF’s primary mission is to empower through education the children of fallen Special Ops servicemen and women. If a surviving child or family needs counseling, the SOWF comes forward. If elementary or high school classes become overwhelming, the SOWF provides tutoring. When college opportunities arise, the SOWF pays the bill.
"With the support of SOWF, those who volunteer in Special Operations to serve our country can do so knowing that if they lost their lives in the line of duty, their families would be taken care of,” says Dick Zagorski, a Lake Geneva resident who’s passionate about supporting the cause, as his son is a Green Beret.
For three years, Dick and his wife, Janice, pursued a letter-writing campaign to raise funds for SOWF, until 2015, when they started a golf outing at Geneva National, where they live and are members of the golf club. The group of 24 Geneva National members raised more than $17,000 their first year. In 2016, members Steve and Kim Schroeppel, Denny and Michele Baltzley, Chuck Puntillo and Cindy Butler, and Keith and Donna Watson, helped the event triple in size, generating more than $84,000. The upswing continued this August with the same team leading the outing, which pulled in about $147,000 for SOWF, making it the Foundation’s second most lucrative of 177 fund-raising events.
Zagorski attributes this windfall primarily to the Geneva National members and their guests’ enthusiastic generosity and overarching patriotism. “This event is probably the best cross-section of Geneva National’s membership,” says Zagorski, “and everyone comes together on this, no matter their political inclinations. It’s truly heartwarming.”
Zagorski points out that currently, SOWF is supporting 123 college students and 743 elementary and high school students combined – and has made a lasting impact on hundreds of graduates, such as Katie Connor, who graduated debt-free with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. “This is not just a program or a foundation – here’s the money, go to college,” says Connor. “It’s very personal to every student.”
Like its beneficiaries, SOWF’s supporters sense close ties to the Foundation. “The SOWF team is like family to us – and as military parents, the cause is dear to our hearts,” says Zagorski, who notes that Geneva National’s Head Member Professional Bryan Brotchie helped spearhead the initial GN golf fundraiser by enlisting the support of his dad, retired Air Force Special Tactics Colonel Craig Brotchie and SOWF Board member.
“Sometimes in the busyness of life, we might be tempted to take for granted that less than 1% of the population – the men and women serving in the U.S. military – are fighting every day so that we can enjoy our lives and maintain our freedom,” says Zagorski. “Our support of the SOWF is just one way we demonstrate that we will never forget.”
About Geneva National Resort -- Home of and Golf Magazine’s “Top Courses You Can Play,” Geneva National has made legendary golf a tradition for 26 years and features three championship courses uniquely designed by masters Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. Join this semi-private club as a member, live in the luxurious 1600-acre lakeshore golf community, or vacation just a nine iron from the tee box at the Inns of Geneva National, award-winning boutique group villas with access to the private wellness center, tennis courts, outdoor pools, hiking paths, room service from the Clubhouse Grill Room and shuttle service to Geneva National’s five-star Hunt Club Steakhouse. genevanationalresort.com
About Special Operations Warrior Foundation -- SOWF ensures full financial assistance for a post-secondary degree from an accredited two or four-year college, university, technical or trade school, as well as family and educational counseling, including in-home tutoring, to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations service members who lose their lives in the line of duty. The foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded and hospitalized special operations service members. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is committed to providing scholarship grants – not loans – to over 1,100 children, who survive over 900 special operations service members who gave their lives in service to our country. specialops.org