Meet Our Inspirational Co-Founders - Joseph & Brittany Higson
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.
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 by the end of 2017 will have now provided RnR Recovery Vacations to over 400 deployed service members, and their families, at resorts in the Tampa Bay and beyond.
In late June of 2016, a volunteer for Troop Rewards, Tamara Abney, found the Higson family via Facebook. They had no idea their call and thank you letter inspired Mr. Burkett to start the charity. They were amazed at what they inspired over the following 7 years. They met for the first time at Le Meridien's reception on July 14, 2016.
Troop Rewards' volunteer Event Planner, Tamara Abney, ( Pictured second from left) made it her mission to find the Higson family after hearing the story of how Higson's call in March of 2009 inspired Burkett to start Troop Rewards at one of the organization's receptions.
The Higson family had no idea their actions had set in to motion a series of events that would become Troop Rewards.
The Higson family is pictured above with Troop Rewards' Founder, Tom Burkett, TR Event Planner, Tamara Abney, and Miss Troop Rewards 2016, Danielle Wainwright.