PAT TILLMAN is an iconic figure, etched deeply into U.S. military lore.
He was a football star at Arizona State before entering the NFL. Tillman was deeply moved by the tragic events of 9/11. So much so, he displayed amazing patriotism by walking away from the Arizona Cardinals in 2002, joining the military to fight against terrorism.
Tragically, Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving with the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in 2004. Shortly thereafter, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established by his family and friends.
The foundation is a national leader in providing resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses. The Tillman Military Scholars program aids all veterans, specifically the ever-growing population of veterans of Post-9/11 conflicts.
Upon inception, the foundation pledged $1.25 million to Arizona State University to create and endow the Tillman Scholars-ASU Leadership Through Action program at the W. P. Carey School of Business. The program celebrates Pat's legacy and his extraordinary accomplishments and leadership as a student-athlete at ASU both on and off the field.
The Tillman Foundation has become a pet project for an Eastern Ohio serviceman.
Technical Sergeant James Riser, a 1995 Martins Ferry High graduate, is passionate about raising money for the foundation.
Riser has spent more than 17 years serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is currently deployed to Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.
"I have had a great time during my 17 and a half years of service as a Security Forces member and a Recruiter," he said.
In 2008, understanding the challenges experienced by military families and the increased need for educational resources, the board of directors refocused its mission: to invest in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships; building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. To date, 230 Tillman Military Scholars representing 34 states and attending 71 academic institutions nationwide have been awarded more than $3 million in scholarship support.
"Every April in Tempe there is an event held called Pat's Run. This event helps raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation to make the Tillman Military Scholars Program possible," Riser said. "There are also Shadow Runs held in different cities around the US to help out as well. This is what I set up here in Afghanistan, and to date I am the only one that has organized one of these runs outside the US.
"This year's run will be held April 21. One way for me to raise the money is to have different service members sign up and participate in the event here," he continued. "The other is to raise donations from family, friends, and anyone else who may want to help out."
Riser has stepped to the plate big time to aid the foundation's fund-raising efforts. He has developed "James Riser's Pat's Run Fundraising Page Supporting our Military Veterans, Active Duty, and Spouses!"
The page can be found at www.active.com/donate/PatsRun13/JRiser3
Riser is the team captain for the run. That is an exhaustive responsibility.
"I have to keep everyone who registers for it up to date on any changes. Second, I had to contact the foundation and get all needed documents from them. I had to set up a date time and location for the run. I also had to gain the approval from my Base Commander," Riser said. "The process took me a little over two months. Once I sent in the required documents, the foundation created a Shadow Run city for me (Shindand AB TROOP RUN) for people to start registering."
Tillman truly was a special individual, walking away from NFL riches and his family, placing his life in harm's way.
Sgt. Riser also exudes unabashed passion with this project. We hope anyone who can support it, does so.
AFTER WATCHING St. Clairsville's Dan Monteroso score 37 points against Martins Ferry Tuesday night, I find it hard to believe he did not receive any Division I basketball offers. He has the athleticism, shooting deftness, size and intangibles to step right in at a MAC hoop school and play. With that said, I also believe he will be a productive wide receiver at Purdue.
BEING A Bellaire resident, I take special interest in the recent move to create a fire district between The All-American Town and Pultney Township. I believe such a creation should come about. Cumberland Trail is the standard bearer for such entities, as it performs at a high level of efficiency while also being able to handle operations without major budget issues. Shadyside and Mead Township made the prudent move in forming the OR&W Fire District.
THE PURPLE Rider Booster Club will have a soup and sandwich sale Sunday, March 10, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Martins Ferry Recreation Center. Those attending can dine in or have carry-outs. There will be no deliveries on that day. Soup also will be sold on Monday, March 11 - this is preorder only, and orders must be received by Friday, March 8, to ensure timely delivery or pickup. There will be no eat-in meals Monday. Soups available will be ham and bean, vegetable beef and chili with or without beans. Sandwiches are chicken salad, ham salad and sloppy joes. Soup will also be sold in pints for $3 and quarts for $6. All food will be prepared at the rec center. The cost of the meal is $6.50 for soup, a sandwich, beverages, soft drinks, water, iced tea and dessert. For more information, call Georgi Riser, 635-4527; Bruce Maguire, 633-0991; Don Cline, 633-0367; Fred Beck 633-5723; John Applegarth, 633-2648; or Larry Deaton 296-0076.
THE PLAN to add an RV Park in Martins Ferry is another nice development move in the Purple City. It may not add many jobs, but it brings more activity and life to the town as well as more dollars being spent with Ferry businesses. It also spruces up a dormant site.
CLEVELAND INDIANS' fans have to be optimistic about the upcoming season. First, the Tribe has one of the premier managers in the game in Terry Francona. Secondly, the club has gone on an eye-opening spending spree, the latest addition coming in the form of a four-year, $48 million contract with Michael Bourn. The Indians perviously signed sluggers Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds and pitchers Matt Capps and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
THE NEXT Bellaire Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon/meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 21 at noon at Country Club Retirement Campus, 55801 Conno-Mara Drive, Bellaire. The cost of the luncheon is $7. There is no charge to attend the meeting. Chad Campbell from Aflac will be the guest speaker. All local businesses and their employees are welcome to attend. Reservations are due by Tuesday, Feb. 19, by calling the chamber office 740-676-9723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kapral may be reached at email@example.com