6/24/2006

USAFA Parents of 2009

Parents Weekend Socials

We will have three locations for meet-n-greets during Parents Weekend. Please join us at the following locations and times:

Wednesday, August 30: Cheyenne Mountain Resort; 7:00 pm - until
Thursday, August 31: Famnet Dinner @ Phil Long Expo Center; 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Monday, September 4: Jack Quinn's Pub; 6:00 pm - until

http://www.cheyennemountain.com/
http://www.phillongexpocenter.com/
www.jackquinnspub.com


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5/12/2006

Accounting of Spirit Mission Funds

Thanks to all those that generously contributed to the Spirit Mission. The following is an accounting of how the money was spent:

453 parents/supporters sent money.

$7525 total collected as of 5/7/06

$5157.15 total for M&Ms
$292.12 total for Jason's Catering for food for the medical staff caring for Cadet Avolio.

$2075.73 total Rando Fund contribution.


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Academy Spirit News- Parents’ ‘Spirit Mission’

By Butch Wehry
Academy Spirit staff

“My son is the photo editor of the
Polaris, and he still doesn’t know what’s
coming,” wrote 2009 mom Mrs. Carol
Bauer from Littleton, Colo., earlier this
month. “And we hope to keep it that
way.”


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    It was the “Spirit Mission” by cadet
    parents, intent on setting a new precedent
    and tradition.
    Fifteen Colorado parents formed
    Tuesday for “Parent Spirit Mission” to
    unite their cadet class, themselves and
    the Academy community.
    “The Spirit mission was about the
    09 parents coming together to congratulate
    their cadets for finishing their first
    year at the Academy,” said Ms. Lori
    Tomkewitz.
    “The best email for me was from one
    of our moms currently serving in Iraq.
    With everything going on in her world,
    it was important that she connect with
    her cadet through this mission,” she
    said.
    That sparked an idea among 09
    parents. A plan was hatched. Emails
    flitted across the globe soliciting small
    donations to buy silver M&M candies
    bearing “09-Our Time” for the freshman
    class.
    More than 1,200 tins of chocolate
    went to the Class of 2009 at a 12:30
    p.m. briefing Tuesday, just in time for
    finals week.
    Mrs. Lori Tomkewitz from San
    Antonio, Texas; Ms.Vivian Eicholt,
    Pueblo, Colo; Ms. Connie Beene, Evans,
    Ga.; Ms. Jenny Gibbs, Baltimore, Md.;
    Ms. Monica Slikker, Bakersfield, Calif.,
    and Mrs. Bauer orchestrated an effort that
    would make military strategists blush.
    It went well beyond a sweet treat for
    the freshmen.
    There’s a special fund for emergency
    transportation to attend services
    if a classmate dies or must go home
    when a family faces crisis.
    So on Tuesday, more than $2,000
    went to the Dennis P. Rando Cadet
    Humanitarian Fund in the name of the
    Class of 2009.


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    5/10/2006

    Visit and thank you from the Avolio family.

    Please know that I am talking about yesterday because the Avolios asked me specifically to let you ALL know how deeply they have been touched by all of your cards and letters and concern.
    I had the privilege of meeting with the parents of Cadet Thomas Avolio yesterday. I traveled over to Penrose after attending the Spirit Mission in order to extend a personal Class of 2009 thank you to the Penrose Critical Care staff for their wonderful treatment of Thomas. From the moment I walked through the doors of that hospital I knew I was someplace special.

    The staff in ALL areas of the hospital were lovely and generous and when I arrived at the CCU, it was clear that Thomas Avolio is in a good and healing place. A charge nurse was located and one of the staff came to the front to meet me. I told her how very much the USAFA parents appreciated their hard work on Thomas's behalf and was there anything further we could do for them? She said she and the staff were genuinely touched that they were remembered with the meals, and she said that Thomas's family has had a lot of wonderful USAFA visitors. The department receptionist said Thomas is a special patient to the staff there. I assured her he was special to us as well.

    I was turning to leave and his nurse asked if I had seen Thomas's parents. I had not and wouldn't know them if they'd walked past. She was gone a moment, then Vic Avolio emerged through the doors by the desk. We were soon joined by Thomas's mother, Barbara, and Thomas's sponsor mom, Gail Lowe, who also volunteers at Penrose. Words fail me when I try to describe the grace of these people ...

    Please know that I am talking about yesterday because the Avolios asked me specifically to let you ALL know how deeply they have been touched by all of your cards and letters and concern. They know there are prayer chains around the country supporting them and Thomas through his recovery and are most grateful. Mr. Avolio knew of the Spirit Mission food delivery and told me one of the staff had given him a copy of the note sent with the food the day before. He asked me to tell you: "We are so appreciative of everyone and we send our thanks to all for their prayers and support. Thank you to the Class of 2009 for taking care of the wonderful people who are taking care of Thomas."

    Vic Avolio said he didn't know how in the world they would ever be able to thank so many people --everyone-- for doing so very much for them during this time. Barbara Avolio said, "We'd like to send a great big group hug to everyone, with all our love."

    They are incredibly strong people, as those who've visited them know, and they see many signs of improvement in their son. But they also said they know there is a long road to recovery ahead of all of them. They ask your continued thoughts and prayers. And they asked that if you know anyone who needs thanking, outside this list, to please pass along their heartfelt gratitude.

    Thank you for letting me share this with you ...

    Written by Carol Bauer


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    Class of 2009 Parents … this Spirit Mission was all about you!

    From the first parents to walk into the vast and echoing Arnold Hall yesterday, till when we closed the doors behind us, those of us privileged enough to be with the 2009 cadets knew we had every one of our Parent Spirit Mission contributors with us.
    We knew you were hoping your cadets would feel those arms reach out and embrace them … and feel them they did!

    Approximately 1000 cadets streamed into the auditorium, tossing packs and slouching into chairs while gabbing with friends. They acted just like typical college students—albeit in uniforms. All your parent volunteers and others gathered behind the stage curtains in anticipation. The auditorium thundered with voices, until the 2009 class officers called the cadets to order and Wing Commander Gray strode out onto the stage. Your cadets sat up and the auditorium fell silent. Commander Gray, an inspiring, and frankly, commanding presence for a college senior, gave a briefing about what it means to be a 3-degree. Then he announced that your parents club would be making a presentation. You could hear the wave of voices spike again, and we knew they unsure of what was to come.

    Vivian Eickholt, a 2009 parent from Pueblo,, Chaplain Woodbury, Captain Hall, and I walked out. You could see that more than a few cadets were startled. Vivian jumped right in and gave a ripping good (and short) explanation of how the 2009 Parent Spirit Mission came to be. Within her introduction, she named various states from which the six main organizers hailed, and the cadets cheered for home states mentioned—we can all vouch for the fact that Texas and California either raise a LOT of cadets, or at least cadets with loud voices! But most poignant was when Vivian spoke of the foreign countries, such as American Samoa, Iraq, Korea, Germany, and others, from which parent donations had arrived. The shouts and whoops grew even louder! Clearly, though thousands of miles might separate our families, “separation” is only a geographical term for our cadets.

    We all chucked, both in front of and behind the curtain, when the cadets wrangled en masse to reply appropriately when Commander Gray or Vivian Eickholt said “2009.” As most of you know, their tradition is to shout a reply of “Our Time!” Well, now that Hubert Zemke has been named the new class exemplar (ask your cadets about that one) the “Our Time” was overlaid with “Zemke,” or “Hub.” It was hilarious to listen to them try to outdo each other. Time will tell what they choose as a class, but we were left with the impression that the new call will be “Hub!”

    Next up, Vivian announced your donation of $2009 to the Dennis P. Rando Cadet Humanitarian Fund, and to the applause of the cadets I was privileged to hand Chaplain Woodbury our check for $2009. He was utterly delighted to receive it and asked that we thank each and every one of you for opening your hearts to cadets in need. He said the fund is absolutely needed and valued and drawn upon over and over again. We thanked him for allowing us to make this donation in the name of our cadet class. The cadets loved it!

    Then Vivian announced that you parents had also provided the Critical Care Staff at Penrose Hospital two meals in thanks for caring for injured 3-degree, Tom Avolio, in the name of 2009. Cadets nodded and clapped, and it was clear they connected with this in a concrete way, given many of them know Tom and the rest know of him.

    Then the sweet event began. Our large and enthusiastic parent distribution group fanned out into the auditorium, baskets and carts loaded down with the silver M&Ms in their shiny silver tins. There were looks of surprise and many big smiles by the recipients and the parents. Some cadets popped the lids and started pouring them into their mouths. Others took their time, looked closer and realized—even in the dim light of the auditorium—that the candy was stamped with 09-Our Time. That slowed the rate of consumption just a tick and you could see them pondering whether to consume or conserve!

    The cadets behaved admirably. They took only one per customer as advised and many concerned cadets waited till the distribution was complete, then ran to the stage to ask for a tin for friends sitting CQ back at their squadrons. As you know by now, that was managed by email and hopefully, by Friday, all missing 4-degrees will have their M&Ms in hand.

    From start to finish, the Class of 2009 Parent Spirit Mission has been about everyone opening their minds and hearts to accomplish something new. Our Mission angel, Captain Deana Hall, said yesterday, “This will turn into an annual event. This will go on and on for years to come!” Our Chaplain Woodbury echoed that by saying how important the Rando Fund is to the kids at USAFA. It is a resource they can pull from when they need it most. He noted that our cadets have already benefited from the Fund. We as a class hope that this spirit of giving will continue and that this mission will challenge others to do more in the years ahead. What started as a light-hearted idea to bring a needed pat on the back to our cadets for a successful Doolie year grew into something far more. Much like Recognition, this first-ever parent spirit mission has cemented this class of parents into a cohesive unit. We are no longer strangers. This wasn’t about being helicopter parents, it was about unifying a set of families into a integrated unit—and as extensions of the military family, that is what we have … each other! I’m guessing we all know now that if needed, most every parent with a cadet in this USAFA Class of 2009 could be called on to help any cadet or cadet family.

    The organizers of this task took on a big job and handled it with amazing efficiency and grace. Just as did the parents who took time off work and drove to Colorado Springs for ten minutes of handing out candy. Just as did every person who wrote a little (or sometimes large) check and mailed it in so their cadets and others would have that tin of candy and “get” that congratulatory message from home. Just as did the Mars Corporation when they gave us a huge discount on shipping the candy. Just as did the powers that be at USAFA who opened the door just a tiny bit so that we 2009 parents could charge through and show them who we are … and show them what the cadets of the Class of 2009 are capable of.

    Congratulations Parents of the Class of 2009 … you and your cadets ROCK!


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    5/09/2006

    Spirit Mission Photos


    The first pictures of the spirit mission have been posted. You may view more here,
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    Spirit Mission Excecuted


    Tin's of M&M's are now being distibuted to your 2009 USAFA Cadets.


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    Class of 2009 “Parent Spirit Mission” Benefits Freshman Class and Academy Humanitarian Fund

    It couldn’t be done. Yet it has been. The first ever USAFA Parent Spirit Mission
    The United States Air Force Academy Class of 2009 parents from across the United States, and across the globe, up-end tradition by initiating the first-ever “Parent Spirit Mission” meant to unite their cadet class, themselves and the greater Academy family.
    Less than four weeks ago, on the heels of a message to parents from new Academy Superintendent, Lieutenant General John F. Regni, which spoke of reinstating “Spirit” into the Academy, the Class of 2009 parents hatched an idea to do something unique: Unbeknownst to their cadets they initiated a Parent Spirit Mission to congratulate their 2009 “silver” class for completing a rigorous first year at the Academy. A plan was launched and emails raced across the globe, soliciting small donations to purchase silver M&M candies for the freshman class. The customized M&Ms bear the class standard “09 - Our Time.” With military efficiency, more than 1200 silver tins of the chocolate are being delivered to the Class of 2009 today at a briefing scheduled for 12:30 mountain standard time, just in time for Finals Week.
    But this mission goes well beyond a sweet treat for freshman cadets. As donations poured in from parents in the U.S., Chad, Honduras, Chile, American Samoa, Germany, Iraq, Thailand and Korea, organizers knew they had tapped into something deeper than a candy drop for their students. Cadet parents opened their hearts and their wallets, even as targets were met and exceeded. Because of their generosity, $2009 will be donated to the Dennis P. Rando Cadet Humanitarian Fund in the name of the Class of 2009. The Rando Fund provides emergency transportation to cadets to attend services in the event there is a death of a classmate. It is also available to cadets facing dire family crises who must travel home on an emergency basis. The remaining donated funds were utilized so that the Class of 2009 could express their sincere thanks to the medical staff of the Penrose Hospital Critical Care Unit for their immediate and ongoing care of C3C Thomas Avolio, who was seriously injured in a hiking accident two weeks ago. On Monday, May 8, a special lunch was delivered to these hardworking and dedicated professionals with a note of gratitude from the Class of 2009.

    For additional information regarding the 2009 Parent Spirit Mission, please visit http://usafa2009parent.blogspot.com and for a direct link to pictures of today's event, please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/mslikk/. Information and pictures will be added as they become available.


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    5/07/2006

    Spirit Mission imminent


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    4/28/2006

    Spirit Mission

    Come here to view updates on the 2009 Parents Spirit Mission. You don't want to miss the news and pictures that will be posted here...


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    9/29/2005

    Give your cadet a lift!

    This week and the last week have been pretty stressful for the cadets. They have had many GR's (Graded Reviews) and other tests. If you want to send your cadet a treat you can order them from the websites below. They will be delivered to your cadet within a day or so. You can even order Birthday cakes for them to share with their fellow cadets.
    If you choose to send your own treats, remember that the US Post Office has two different sizes of flat rate boxes. They cost $7.70 to send priority mail. Many parents have gotten enough packed into a box that would have cost up to $14 otherwise.

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