Jani-King of Portland Honors Soldiers
Over the past several years, Jani-King of Portland has hosted a charitable golf outing for clients, vendors and other business partners in the region. And each year, the event has contributed thousands of dollars to local charities. This year, as Kim Ransdell, VP Jani-King of Portland, began to search for open dates on which to hold the event, she felt that Friday, September 11th would be a fitting day to bring clients together and to help others. Once the date was selected, she then knew that the right charity had to be chosen as the beneficiary.
‘When Kim presented information on the Folds of Honor foundation and Major Dan Rooney, I knew that she had found the perfect match for this year’s event,’ said Jeff Freeman, Master Franchise Owner of Jani-King of Portland and Eugene/Salem. ‘Major Rooney is true American hero and we wanted to do everything possible to contribute to his efforts.’
Ransdell and Freeman didn’t stop at just selecting a charity. They reached out to Major Rooney by phone and within a matter of minutes, had a commitment from Major Rooney to attend the event.
On September 11th, 2009 over 130 golfers, including Major Rooney, arrived to Langdon Farms golf course just outside of Portland for the annual Jani-King charity event. Before teeing off, the guests gathered to listen to the national anthem, they watched military veterans from the local VFW present the U.S. flag and the crowd was emotionally moved by Major Dan Rooney’s story as he addressed the group.
In all, Jani-King of Portland helped raise more than $30,000 that day for the Folds of Honor foundation. ‘I cannot express my gratitude enough to those who made a contribution to the foundation,’ said Freeman. ‘I want to thank Jani-King International, all of the master franchisees that contributed and all of those who are still sending in donations. ‘Everyone needs to know what a wonderful charity this is and that Major Rooney is an American hero we can all be proud of.’
Major Dan Rooney’s Story
The Folds of Honor Foundation was founded in 2007 by Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 pilot, golf course owner, PGA Professional and USGA member. A Major in the Air National Guard and a decorated military aviator, Rooney has served three combat tours in Iraq. After returning from his second tour, Major Rooney witnessed a profound situation on a commercial flight that drove him to create the Folds of Honor Foundation.
As the plane landed, the pilot spoke. ‘We have the remains of Corporal Brock Bucklin on board, and his twin brother Corporal Brad Bucklin has accompanied him home from Iraq. As a sign of respect, please remain seated while we honor Corporal Bucklin and his sacrifice,’ the pilot requested over the intercom.
Rooney, a passenger on the flight, watched through the plane window as the flag-covered casket was removed from the rear cargo hold. He saw Bucklin’s family meet the procession with tears streaming down their cheeks. And he choked back emotion when he saw the soldier’s young son clutching at his mother’s leg.
This is any serviceman’s worst nightmare, thought Rooney. An F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Major Rooney had served two tours in Iraq. While he had experienced the harsh reality on the frontlines, he had never witnessed the devastating reality back home.
As Major Rooney attempted to regain his composure, he finally turned back to the plane. It was then he noticed that half of the passengers had ignored the pilot’s request and had already de-boarded. That moment changed Major Rooney’s life forever.
When the paths of Corporal Bucklin and Major Rooney crossed on that fateful flight, Rooney vowed to make a difference. Though he couldn’t change the fate of a fallen soldier, he could change the future of a grieving widow or a fatherless child.
Major Rooney set out to prove to America’s heroes “our military personnel” that their sacrifices would never go unappreciated or unrewarded. From that sincere and simple wish, a foundation was born. Folds of Honor hopes to ensure that families of the fallen must never endure alone.
Education is the key to a brighter future, and it’s the basis of Folds of Honor: The Foundation provides post-secondary educational scholarships to the spouses and children of service members disabled or killed as a result of their military service to our great nation.
The Foundation’s primary fundraiser is Patriot Golf Day, the largest grassroots golf platform in the country. With the support of the PGA of America and USGA, Patriot Golf Day has generated over $3 million from more than 3,700 golf courses in just two years. The first scholarship awarded by the Foundation was to the son of Corporal Brock Bucklin.