"Troop Rewards understands the unique stresses and separation dynamics placed on families during deployments and they go above and beyond to compensate for the time apart." USAF Lt Col Jeremy Harmon.
Troop Rewards' Founder, Tom Burkett, sits down with the Higson family before the Le Meridien Tampa's Welcome Home Our Heroes reception, as local media channels WTSP 10 News and Fox 13 Tampa Bay capture their first ever meeting.
Ret. Army Sgt Joe Higson was the soldier that called Burkett in March 2009 from a satellite phone while serving a deployment in Iraq. As a Pvc. 1st Class Infantry soldier in 2009, he was calling to inquire about booking Burkett's suite at the Sandpearl Resort & Spa in Clearwater Beach for a belated honeymoon with his wife, Brittany.
When Higson was given a price that was outside of his budget, Burkett slashed the price to $0, stating "How can I charge you anything, when you've risked your life for the last 9 months fighting to defend our freedoms we enjoy back home." After the Higson's trip in 2009, they went their separate ways until this week. This Pay-It-Forward moment inspired Burkett to start Troop Rewards in 2013 and now provides almost 100 families per year with RnR Recovery Vacations at resorts in the Tampa Bay and beyond.
In late June of 2016, a volunteer for Troop Rewards, Tamra Abney, found the Higson family and they had no idea their call and thank you letter to Burkett inspired him to start the charity. They met for the 1st time at Le Meridien's reception on July 14, 2016.
Troop Rewards hosts 10 Armed Forces members, and their families, who recently returned home from deployments in connection with the "War Against Terror" campaign.
The Sandpearl Resort & Spa was the presenting sponsor and hosted the families to a no-cost 5 day / 4 night RnR Recovery vacation at the resort that started on Memorial Day.
Other sponsors included local businesses, such as the Palm Pavilion, that hosted a farewell dinner for the families and the Kai Lani Catamaran & the Calypso Queen that offered the families a sunset cruise during their stay.
Troop Rewards hosts 10 Armed Forces members, and their families, who recently returned home from deployments in connection with the "War Against Terror" campaign. The Hyatt Regency Hotel was the presenting sponsor and hosted the families to a no-cost 5 day / 4 night RnR Recovery vacation at the resort that started on Memorial Day. Other sponsors included local businesses, such as the Clearwater Yacht Club, that hosted a farewell dinner for the families and the Tropics Boat Tours & the Calypso Queen that offered the families a sunset cruise during their stay.
Troop Rewards selected as the DeBartolo Family Foundation's "Spirit of Humanity" award for 2016. Candy and Lisa DeBartolo presented the $25,000 check and the beautiful "Spirit of Humanity" Award to our founder, Tom Burkett, at Candy DeBartolo's new premier restaurant called the Sacred Pepper at the family and friends night. Mrs.Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf and her daughter, Jessica Schwarzkopf were there to share the moment along with some Troop Rewards Board Members, Vance Vogel and CMSgt Scott Blake.
Welcoming Home Our Heroes" Veterans Day reception for 20 deployed military, and their families hosted at our main sponsor Shephard's Beach Resort with David Jolly for U.S. Senate and George Cretekos, Mayor of Clearwater along with Troop Rewards Ambassador Jessica Schwarzkopf.
Also in attendance were Troop Reward's President, Jim Herron, Founder Tom Burkett and Board Members Chief Scott Blake, Ret. BG Joe Oder, and Shephards Resort owners Geri and Billy Shephard #trooprewards #veteransday2015 #clearwaterbeach #welcomehome
A total of $44,000 was donated by the Sandpearl Resort & other sponsors including the Kani Lai, Palm Pavilion, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Union Burger to host these 10 deployed service members, and their families. A grand total of over $100,000 was donated by all of our sponsors to host all 30 of our selected families.
Our 3rd Annual Key West RnR Recovery trip for 10 returning deployed troops, & their families was a huge success!
We couldn't have done it without the generous support of our main sponsor the Sunset Key Cottages, A Luxury Collection Resort
and tireless efforts of Sunset Key's GM Diane Schmidt Fury's Derek Gay We've Got the Keys' Nadene Grossman Orr First Lady of Key West Cheryl Hollon Cates & of course Mayor Craig Cates
See you all again in 2016!!
Troop Rewards would like to send our sincere thanks to JoAnn & John Nestor, owners of Charles Rutenberg Realty,
Inc. for hosting an amazing Casino Night funraiser at Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. To raise money for us & @BigCatRescue. Job well
done @gocrr team
#TroopRewards #gocrr #bigcatrescue
Yesterday, our founder, Tom Burkett, was inducted as a Honorary Commander at MacDill Air Force Base as they celebrated the Air Force's 68th birthday. Attending the event was one of our past recovery vacation selectees, MSgt Jessica Fleurimond. Troop Rewards congratulates all the newly inducted Honorary Commanders and wishes them well during their two year term.
We are super excited and pleased to announce today that Troop Rewards has been named the charity beneficiary partner for Charles Rutenberg Realty's Casino Night Gala on 19 September 2015 at the SafetyHarborResort at 7pm.
Tickets are $100/couple or $75 for single tickets. Come out and support Charles Rutenberg Realty as they help raise funds to support our Active Armed Forces and their families and Big Cat Rescue. Our very own Miss Troop Rewards will be there along with founder, Tom Burkett, & President, Jim Herron.
To purchase tickets call or email Jen at:
727.641.5158 or RSVP at Jen@gocrr.com
As an MacDill AFB Civic Leader and an Honorary Commander, our Founder, Tom Burkett, was able to visit Charleston Joint AFB & Tyndall AFB with other Honorary Commanders & Civic Leaders from MacDill 6th AMW.
Greeting the Civic Leader Tour at Tyndall AFB was Base Command Chief & Base Commander Col Derek France.
During their visit to Joint Base Charleston the group received a briefing at Base HQ from Base Commander, Col Robert Lyman and Navy Commander Sparks about the Base's unique mission to provide mission-ready expeditionary Airmen to Combatant Commanders in support of Joint and Combined operations worldwide.
Upon arrival at Tyndall AFB the group was treated to a lunch then received a briefing from the 95th & 301st Fighter Squadrons before being able to post for a group photo in front of a F-22.
We are pleased to announce today that Troop Rewards has been named the charity beneficiary partner for Mortgage Contracting Services Annual "Walk for Heroes" event at Gadsden Park, Tampa on September 12, 2015 from 10am-12pm.
Come out and support the volunteers as they help raise funds to support our Active Armed Forces and thier families. The "Troop Rewards Hummer H1" will be there for photo ops for the kids. Our founder, Tom Burkett, & Troop Reward's President, Jim Herron, will be attending to speak to CMS and their employees and volunteers to show support for their efforts.
Troop Rewards is very honored to be invited to be the charity partner at the City of Clearwater's 4th of July celebration at Coachman Park which is part of their 100th Centennial Events planned this year. "We think it would be a great opportunity to work with a local organization that has such a positive impact with Military families and would love to include you all in our event!" said Erin Dunn, City of Clearwater Parks & Recreation Special Events Dept. Intern.
"Last year we drew 14,468 people through the gates during the event and this could be a great opportunity for Troop Rewards to share their mission with the Clearwater community!" Erin added.
Our Founders were in Washington, DC this week to meet with US Congressman David Jolly to discuss the hardships of multiple deployments or our armed forces and the toll on the military family and how are RnR Recovery Vacations are helping them upon returning home.
Pictured: US Congressman David Jolly, Troop Rewards Co-Founder, Deborah Burkett, and Founder, Tom Burkett posing on the House Speaker's private balcony on Capitol Hill.
Troop Rewards was honored to be invited by George Cretekos, Mayor of Clearwater to participate in Clearwater's Centennial Parade today. We would like to thank Miss Troop Rewards, Deborah Burkett, our Ambassador, Jessica Schwarzkopf, Board Members, Jim Herron & USAF Chief Scott Blake, Troop Rewards Volunteer Photographer, Izzy Gonzales, Hyatt's Ladd Lindsey, and volunteers Peter Nicholls & Lance Hildago for driving and providing our awesome parade vehicles.
Twenty recently deployed Military Heroes, and their families, were hosted to a "Welcome Home Our Heroes" reception at the Hyatt Regency Resort and the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach on Memorial Day as part of Troop Reward's 3rd annual Memorial Day Event. Each resort hosted 10 selected military families and each family received a no-cost 5 day / 4 night "Recovery Vacation" to help them reconnect with loved ones after an overseas deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and North Africa.
Congressman David Jolly, who attended the Sandpearl reception, and Congresswoman Kathy Castor presented each family a US flag flown over the US Capitol in their honor along with a personalized letter thanking the families for their dedicated service and sacrifice to our country. Also on hand to help welcome home the families were Sandpearl Resort's GM Eric Waltz, Hyatt Regency's GM Dena Roady, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, MacDill's Vice Commander Col Andre Briere, Ret. Army Brig Gen Joe Oder, Troop Rewards Founder Tom Burkett and Troop Rewards Ambassador Jessica Schwarzkopf. The families were also treated to sunset cruises, a visit to see "Winter the Dolphin", and other fun family activities during their stay. A total of $95,682 was donated for these events by the Sandpearl Resort, Hyatt Resort and other local businesses in Clearwater.
Hyatt Welcome Home Our Heroes Event Picture:
Hyatt's Danielle Wainwright, Board Member & Vice President Jim Herron, MacDill's Vice Commander Col Andre Briere, Troop Rewards Ambassador Jessica Schwarzkopf, Founder Tom Burkett, Hyatt's GM Dena Roady, Director of Marketing Nancy Longstreth, Hyatt's Event Planner Heather Brant, Miss Troop Rewards and Co-Founder, Deborah Burkett, and Board Member USAF Chief Scott Blake.
Welcome Aboard! We are pleased to announce that Starlite Cruises has agreed to sponsor our Memorial Day Welcome Home Dinner cruise aboard their beautiful Calypso Queen for our 20 selected military families for 2015.
The families will enjoy a Tropical Cruise with breathtaking sunsets while cruising the calm & tranquil waters of Clearwater Harbor and Intercoastal waterways. They will be treated to dancing, tropical drinks along with a delicious Tropical Island Style Dinner Buffet including mango glazed chicken, beef teriyaki and chilled steamed shrimp. The Cruise Director/DJ will provide music for dancing and fun interactive entertainment with a Caribbean flair as well. Thank you, Starlite Cruises for giving back to our deployed troops in such a big way.
Troop Reward's "Suite Night" of Hockey for some selected members of MacDill Air Force Base's 6th Security Forces at the Penguins/Lightning game on Tuesday, Dec 23th.
We would like to thank Matt Sterner & Gravitee for donoring their entire suite to these Air Force families and Call MD Plus CEO & Troop Reward's Board Member, Dr. Brian "Bones" Allard for donating all the food & drinks for a great night of hockey.
Today at the Sandpearl Resort, we were honored to present our 2014 "Crystal Van Gogh" Community Outreach Award to Ocean Properties Ltd. (OPL).
Ocean Properties Ltd. was recognized and earned the award for their continued support and for providing over 50 military families with "Recovery Vacations" after a deployment in 2014 at some of their beautiful resorts like the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach and the Sunset Key Guest Cottages in Key West.
They continue to add to their generous support by adding more of their densination resorts to our "Recovery Vacations" program. We look forward to expanding our partnership even more in 2015.
Pictured: Troop Reward's Chairman, Tom Burkett, OPL's VP of Oper. Andy Berger, and Sandpearl Resort's GM, Eric Waltz.
Thank you US Congressman David Jolly and your entire DC staff for inviting us to Capitol Hill to be on hand for your house remarks about Troop Rewards and the work we are doing for our deployed
troops and their families.
We were honored by your words today and our entire visit has been fanastic thanks to your amazing team. It was our honor to present you with our "Chairman's Coin". The link to the floor remarks video is below:
Welcome Home to our 10 selected US Air Forces families. Most arrived home last month and were united with their families after deploying in Afghanistan & other Arab countries.
We would like to thank our sponsor, Shephard's Beach Resort, for hosting these families for their 5 day/4 nights and providing an amazing "Welcome Home Reception" held last night on Veterans Day
Thank you US Congressman David Jolly and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos for attending our "Welcome Home Reception" and recovery vacation kick off party by presenting each one of our 10 selection
families with a nice personalized signed letter thanking them for their service and a US Flag flown over the US Capitol in their honor. The families were also presented with a "Chairman's Coin" from
our Founder & Chairman, Tom Burkett.
Also, many thanks to our main sponsor, the Sandpearl Resort & Spa for rolling out the red carpet for these families during their stay. Private VIP cabana's by the pool on pool day and a visit to meet "Winter" the Dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a sunset cruise on the 50' Kai Lani.
Troop Reward's Founders, Tom & Deborah Burkett visited our UK friends Al & Pam Sutton, Founders of Troop Aid UK, during their recent trip to Solihul, England to congratulate them on their two big honors this year. "We always make it a point to visit with Al & Pam everytime we visit the UK. Their work and stories are so encourging to us and it's always a fun time to catch up with both of them." stated Deborah Burkett, Troop Reward's Co-Founder.
Troop Aid was awarded the Chief of Defence Staff Commendation Medal and the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2014. The Queen's Award has an equivalent status for voluntary groups as the MBE has for individuals.
We are very happy for our friends across the pond that not only help support wounded British troops but have provided their care packages to US forces in need in the UK.
Co-Founders, Tom & Deborah Burkett were in the UK recently to visit the Royal Air Force Base in Midenhall, England to meet and greet some of the 5 families that were rewarded with Troop Reward recovery vacations upon thier return home to the states.
They were greeted by Base Commander, Col Bibbs, and Command Chief Jones along with other USAF officers, including USAF Capt Balch and Chief MSgt Kentta. Chief Kentta was recently transfered to Lakenheath from MacDill AFB in Tampa and had only seen Mr. Burkett at MacDill's change of command ceremony just 2 weeks prior.
Our founders were able to share with the selected families why we do what we do and were treated to lunch with the Base Commander and Command Chief and a special tour of the Air Tower before being presented with the Base Commander's coin.
"It was truly special and touching to have the chance to meet some of the families that were selected and to be given a tour of the base and air tower by the Base Commander, Col Bibbs and Command Chief Jones. Being presented with the Commander's Coin topped off a great visit for me and my wife." said Tom Burkett.
Our founder, Tom Burkett was recently honored and deeply touched last month to be presented with a limited edition copy of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's Congressional Gold Medal that was bestowed
upon the General in 1991.
The late General's wife, Brenda, and daughter Jessica presented the solid brass replica to our founder and Troop Rewards to acknowledge and recoginze all the support and efforts they do for providing returning US soldiers, and their families, coming back from deployment a no-cost recovery vacation.
We want to thank the Schwarzkopf Family and specifically the Late General's daughter, Jessica, for her continued support and work for Troop Rewards in her position as Troop Reward's Ambassador and valued board member.
Troop Reward's Co-Founder, Deborah Burkett, conveys to U.S. Congressman Jolly, at one of our welcome receptions at the Sandpearl Resort & Spa, how these recovery vacations and quality time away with their loved ones helps make a positive impact in the soldier's reintregration back home after a deployment in Afghanistan, Iraq or other AOR's.
The Congessman was very impressed with what we are doing and is making house remarks in the US Congress about Troop Rewards and the work we are doing.
Memorial Day with Troop Reward's Ambassador Jessica Schwarzkopf, Sandpearl GM Eric Waltz, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, US Congressman David Jolly at Troop Reward's Welcome Reception at the
Sandpearl Resort for 12 US military families recently back from deployment, They will be enjoying their recovery vacations until this Friday.
What a great event and we all enjoyed meeting with all the families.
Thank you Sandpearl Resort Clearwater Beach for being the main sponsor for these rewards.
US Congressman David Jolly will be attending the Troop Reward's Welcome Reception for the 11 military families that are being rewarded the 5 day / 4 night no-cost recovery vacations at the
Sandpearl Resort this Memorial Day.
Also in attendance, will be Clearwater Mayor Cretekos, Jessica Schwarzkopf and other special guests from MacDill AFB.
We are honored that the Congressman is attending this event of what is a very busy day for him this Memorial Day. He wants to honor and thank those who gave all and those that are serving today.
Our Founder, Tom Burkett, presents a Founder's Coin to Maj Joshua Boudreaux with the Air Force Thunderbirds. Maj Boudreaux is Left Wing Pilot #2 and hails from Covington, La.
"I wanted to thank him for his service to our country and recoginze his 2,800 flight hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 400 hours of combat experience in the F-16C. He is also a great Ambassador for the Air Force and the men and women fighting for our country. I was very honored to present him with my coin and knowing that he was flying with it at the MacDill AFB Airfest." Tom Burkett said.
Almost presented with a Founder's Coin was Maj Curtis Dougherty, Slot Pilot #4 for his 2,900 flight hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 800 hours of combat experience in the F-15E. "I was so honored to meet these young men and women who are such great Ambassadors for the Air Force and exempify what it means to serve our country." Burkett added.
Wow! I can't even begin to describe how incredibly excited I was to open my email and see your message about me and my family being chosen for a Troop Rewards Vacation!
This Troop Rewards vacation is an absolute blessing and will allow us to create many new incredible experiences and memories and catch up on he quality time that we missed out on.
Although this is indeed and expensive gift, to me and my family, it will be invaluable. We can't thank you and your team enough for your support of our troops and for selecting our family for a Troop Rewards Vacation.
Respectfully, Andrew, Capt USAF
Our recent Troop Reward's Recovery vacation event raised over $50,000 at the Welcome Reception for the 12 military families that were selected for a 5 day / 4 night no-cost recovery vacation at the Sandpearl Resort & Spa in Clearwater Beach, Florida. On hand to help present the check to Troop Rewards was from left, Scott Blake, Troop Reward's Board Member, Sandpearl Restaurant Manager, Jonathan T., Troop Reward Ambassador and Board Member, Jessica Schwarzkopf, Troop Reward Secretary Deborah Burkett, Sandpearl GM Eric Waltz, and Troop Rewards Founder Tom Burkett. Troop Rewards also flew in a Purple Heart and ARCOM medal recipient and his family from Utah for a 7 night stay as part of this event.
We are flying in Army Veteren SPC Walter, and his family, as one of our 12 selected families for our event in October at the Sandpearl Resort & Spa. He was awarded a purple heart and the Army Commendation Medal in 2010 for acts of heroism in Afghanistan. They will be coming from their home in Utah. He served with the US Army 57th Infantry Regiment, 101 Airborne out of Fort Campbell Kt. Walter and his wife Nicole have two young girls and live in South Ogden UT.
He joined the Army Sep 2009 and deployed to Kandahar Afghanistan May 2010. He was medically discharged from Fort Campbell in September of 2011.
I can't believe we can choose a resort to stay at without the stress of the financial burden of a vacation. I have to say that The Westin Key West has been an unattainable dream vacation of ours for a few years. My wife and I have stared at pictures of Key West and imagined what it would be like to go there. I feel like it would give my wife and I that chance to fall in love all over again. None of us want to admit that we don't have enough money to take a vacation, but there are people like you Mr. Burkett and the folks at Trooprewards.org that say "hey let us give something to you for the time you've sacrificed to your country". It is a very humbling feeling to know that there are people that are willing to do that. I can't say thank you enough for selecting my family for this opportunity. It will definitely be the most important and memorable trip of our relationship. You have truly lifted a burden off my back financially and gave my family something amazing to look forward to once I get home. I hope that it is possible for us to stop in Tampa on our way through Florida and thank you in person. I am not known for being short on words but I'm speechless! You sir are a guardian angel.... Thank You!
We are very excited about our next Troop Rewards event starting on September 7th 2013. The 10 military families will start their vacation in Ft. Myers for one night then embark on the Key West Express Catamaran for a 3.5 hour cruise down to Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, where they will spend 5 days / 4 nights in a luxury 2 or 3 bedroom cottage on their own private island, only accessible by boat. They will have breakfast delivered to their private cottage every morning, along with daily meal coupons and other fun family stuff to do during their stay. Thanks to We've Got the Keys & Fury Cat Charters , they will have their choice of either a Dolphin Cruise Experience, Sunset Cruise, or a Snorkel Reef Cruise during their stay for some great family memories. Thanks to sponsors, Diamond Head Beach & Spa & Hampton Inn & Suites, for providing rooms in Ft. Myers, Key West Express, for the cruise to & from Ft. Myers to Key West, Key West Taxi, for shuttle service to/from port to hotel for making these vacations possible. And a Big Shout out to Sunset Key Cottages and Ocean Properties, Ltd for providing the luxury cottages for 4 nights, entertainment, food, boat transfers and a nice poolside dinner reception for the families.
Our Chairman, Tom Burkett, had a chance to meet with House of Lords member, The Rt. Hon. the Lord Maclennan of Rogart while visiting the House of Lords and share a little bit about what Troop Rewards is doing for U.S. soldiers returning from deployment. Lord Maclennan was very gracious and interested in learning more about what we do.
Our Founder, Tom Burkett, and his wife, Deborah, had a chance to sit down with Troop Aid Founder and Chairman, Al Sutton and his wife Pam while in London. They met at the Mayfair Hotel in London and heard some amazing stories of some of the wounded soldiers and how their organization helped them with much needed supplies after returning from the battlefield.
Troop Aid provides care packages which include trainers, clothes, toothbrushes, and other basic essentials as well as thier famous Troop Aid Teddy Bear. They also learned about some great fund raising ideas that they will take back with them to the US. Prince Charles is their Patron and it was nice to hear how involved and interested and supportive Prince Charles is of Troop Aid.
Ceo Challenges Racer Scott Roix, talks to media before setting off on a 3,000 mile trek across America to raise awareness and funds for Troop Rewards. The team has trained for 12 months for this event and hopes to finish in the top three and 1st in it's class. The race promoter is Race Across America, and it is known as the toughest bike race in the world. We wish them well as they set off today from Oceanside, CA to their final destination of Annnpolis, MD in about 6 days. Our goal is to raise $10,000 or more. Please show our troops and Scott your support and donate today!
We are pleased to announce that Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf's daughter, Jessica, as been appointed by the Board of Directors as a new board member and will serve as Troop Reward's Ambassador. She will also attend and speak at our welcome receptions and events to raise raise awareness for the work we do.
Congratulations to Jessica and welcome to the Troop Reward's team, we are very honored and excited to have you on our team.
Jessica speaking at Troop Reward's Memorial Event at the Sandpearl Resort & Spa in May 2014.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis along with Clearwater Mayor, George Cretekos help Eric Waltz General Manager at the Sandpearl Resort present Troop Reward's Executive Director, Tom Burkett with a check for $24,190 at the Memorial Day Welcome Reception for 5 USAF Airmen, who started their 4 night no-cost recovery vacations at the resort on Monday. Honorary Board Member Jessica Schwarzkopf was in attendance as well to thank the families for their dedicated service to our country. Other invited guests included Rhonda Sanborn, Director at Vist St. Pete-Clearwater, Chief Master Sgt Scott Blake with the 6 Security Forces at MacDill AFB and othe vets and active military from the Tampa Bay area.
US Congressman Gus Bilirakis will be speaking at the Welcome Reception for the 5 military families that are being rewarded the 5 day / 4 night no-cost recovery vacations at 1pm at the Sandpearl Resort this Memorial Day. In attendance, will be some other local government officials, area VIPs, local vets and other special guests. We are honored that the Congressman is attending this event of what is a very busy day for him this Memorial Day. He wants to honor and thank those who gave all and those that are serving today. We welcome anyone who wants to come by and thank the families for thier service and hear the Congressman address the crowd. The event with be covered by Bay News 9 and other press outlets.
Selecting 30 families
Monday, 7 November 2016 to Friday 11 November 2016 in Clearwater Beach, Fl.
The selected families will be assigned to either:
Sandpearl Resort & Spa
Shephards Beach Resort
For information on how to apply, please click here to fill out and submit your selection form.
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