Military charities and sports charities come in all different types and varieties. But what about charities and organizations that combine the military and sports?
We've put together a list, in no particular order, of the five best military sports charities. Whether employing or benefiting members of the U.S. military, these charities and organizations work hard to support and honor our service members and veterans.
One such charity is Defending the Blue Line, a program designed to help children of service members afford the opportunity to play hockey and to stick with it. The charity accomplishes this by providing free equipment, hockey camps, other events and financial aid for fees. Defending the Blue Line is also supported by a number of NHL teams.
This military sports charity not only helps service members by keeping their children occupied during potentially difficult times, but it also helps the kids by providing a consistent activity they can rely on when the rest of their life might not be consistent.
If you're an avid golfer, this charity is for you. As part of the PGA Tour Charities, Inc., program, Birdies for the Brave was founded in 2005 by Phil and Amy Mickleson, who are now joined by 15 other PGA Tour players who support the cause. It is a military outreach initiative that supports service members and their families and raises money for services that help wounded members of the armed forces.
Birdies for the Brave also invites active duty, retired and reserve military along with their dependents to enjoy as many PGA Tour events as possible free of charge. Members of the military can even interact with TOUR players in several programs.
Now transition from outdoor to indoor sports with The Bowlers to Veterans Link. This charity was founded in 1942 with the purpose of using bowling to support members of the military. It includes many programs such as a veterans bowling tournament and has raised approximately $30 million throughout its history to provide therapeutic and recreational programs for our service members
What is most striking about this organization is that it has given more than 500 active duty units a portable carpet bowling lane where they can de-stress and have fun with their fellow soldiers. It has also allowed veterans recuperating at VA Medical Centers across the country to participate in events such as seeing a movie, going to a baseball game, playing a video game and trying their hand at painting.
Higher Ground aims to rehabilitate wounded veterans through sports and therapy. It serves more than 60 veterans and their spouses every year by providing small week-long sports therapy camps including skiing and snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, water skiing and whitewater rafting. Other outdoor skills veterans can improve include sailing, kayaking, paragliding and hiking.
Recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as one of 60 premiere programs serving veterans out of thousands existing, Higher Ground provides a 3-year follow-up program to ensure veterans receive the aftercare they need. It focuses on using sports to help veterans especially with Traumatic Brain Injuries, PTSD, blindness and mental illness but also serves veterans suffering from amputations, severe burns, spinal cord injuries and hearing impairments.
Although not a charity, this military sports organization is the fourth largest marathon in the country with 101 charity partners this year. Don't be fooled by the name; any and all members of the armed forces can participate as well as civilian runners. With more than 8,000 members from all armed forces competing, "The People's Marathon" is celebrating its 37th year in the nation's capitol and will include 30,000 registered participants this October, according to Public Relations Coordinator Tami Faram.
Runners can choose to donate to affiliated charities, which are both military and non-military. The Marine Corps Marathon also puts on other races, so if you're not the marathon type, you can enter a shorter race.
Whether you're a member of the military or not, these seven charities and organizations offer a wide variety of ways to get involved and support our military and veterans. Just don't forget to bring your A-game!