Above & Beyond for Military Families

DALLAS – At a recent Dallas Mavericks home game, Major Dan Rooney was emotional as he explained why he owes the Dallas Mavericks a debt of gratitude.

Rooney is the founder of Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization which provides educational scholarships to families of military men and women who have been killed or disabled while on active duty in the United States armed forces.

Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch recently challenged the nearly two dozen NBA teams that they’ve partnered with to manufacture creative ways to raise funds for those scholarships. And the Mavs wound up raising more money ($18,064) than any other team.

For their efforts, the Mavs were awarded a trophy by Anheuser-Busch during the NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles last month.

“We wanted to support (Folds of Honor) as best we can, but we didn’t really know where all the teams would fall,” said Kory Nix, director of corporate sponsorship for the Mavs. “At the end of the day we ended up being the No. 1 team out of all of them, as far as fundraising goes.”

“So when we went to All-Star, they brought us up in front of all of the other teams and gave us an award for winning the most fundraising, so that was cool.”

It was also cool, Nix said, that the Mavs received an additional prestigious trophy from Folds of Honor for going above and beyond the call of duty in helping the military families.

“There are a lot of great Americans here that understand that freedom isn’t free, and having the Mavericks step up and coach (Rick Carlisle) and (owner) Mark (Cuban) and the whole organization, it’s just awesome,” Rooney said. “I think like most things in life you can’t control the outcome, but you can make sure you’re in the fight.”

“And we will continue to be in the fight on behalf of what’s now almost 1.5 million dependents – spouses and kids that have had somebody killed or disabled just in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of them don’t get any federal education assistance, so that’s where Folds of Honor comes in and making sure that we’re taking care of these families, and we’re blessed to have a growing partnership with the NBA and the Mavericks are leading that charge.”

David Craig, the regional vice-president of sales for Anheuser-Busch, also gave high marks to the Mavs for reaching out and assisting those in need.

“The Mavericks stepped up and in typical Dallas fashion, Mark and the team have done an amazing job in terms of supporting the organization,” Craig said. “We couldn’t be more proud to have a partner like the Mavericks associated with us and the Folds of Honor.”

“Dallas set the bar. The opportunity to profile that is an opportunity for us to show what the people in Dallas did and how big a heart we have here and everything the Mavericks have done to support a great cause.”

Overall, the Mavs partnered with Anheuser-Busch, Levy Concessionaires, Ben E. Keith Distributors and Folds of Honor to help raise awareness, promote local events and raise funds for Folds of Honor. For example, portions of the sales of Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob Light at American Airlines Center during the month of November went to the Folds of Honor project.

Also, at a recent Folds of Honor gala, the Mavs gave them several items to auction, including an autographed Dirk Nowitzki jersey that he wore in a game, a VIP Ticket Experience and a Suite Night Experience.

“It was a Budweiser initiative and all of their member teams participated and we ended up raising more money than any other team in the NBA and thus we got the award,” said George Killebrew, the executive vice-president of corporate sponsorship for the Mavs. “We don’t win a lot of things these days, so when we were out at the All-Star game they gave us a big award and a big trophy and they sent us this really nice plaque that’s in the office.”

“Kory Nix handles the Budweiser account and he kind of made it his pet project to make sure that we did everything we could to win. And so when we were out in LA for All-Star, he accepted the award on behalf of the Mavericks because he really did all the work.”

Rooney, an F-16 pilot fighter in the Oklahoma Air National Guard who served three tours of duty in Iraq, is appreciative of the job the Mavs did in beating out their NBA counterparts for the coveted trophy.

“These scholarships honor the sacrifice that was made by their parents, and that is such a powerful thing,” Rooney said. “How quickly we forget in this here-today-gone-tomorrow world that we live in to recognize that freedom isn’t free and these families have paid a huge sacrifice for the freedoms that we all enjoy, and the least we can do is make sure they can pursue the American dream.”

“Our scholarships are $5,000 a piece for the spouses and children of the vets that were killed or disabled defending our freedoms. This money raised by the Mavericks is going to help Texas families who have paid the ultimate sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.”