JDC: Folds of Honor helps children of fallen heroes

JDC honors work of non-profit group

Elizabeth “Liz” Brees, left, a medical school student whose family has been helped by the Folds of Honor organization; and Sarah Bush, director of golf relations at Folds of Honor, are shown at the John Deere Classic on Friday, July 5. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

This year’s John Deere Classic isn’t just about showcasing great golf. It’s also about honoring members of the military and their families.

Many of those messages of honor were seen during the first-ever Folds of Honor (FOH) at the JDC on Friday, July 5. (Folds of Honor is a leading non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships for children of fallen or disabled American military service members and first responders.)

These Folds of Honor pins and ribbons were handed out to spectators and others Friday, July 5, at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run, Silvis. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

“The John Deere Classic is excited to partner with an organization like Folds of Honor whose mission is focused not only on honoring our military and first responders but in actively helping to improve their family members’ lives through education,” JDC Tournament Director Andrew Lehman said in a news release.

Friday’s festivities included several events to honor the military and first responders during the second round of play at TPC at Deere Run in Silvis. Some of the activities included: military ticket holders and first responders were invited to view the PGA Tour event from the Patriots’ Outpost hospitality area overlooking the 18th green; Folds of Honor pins and ribbons were distributed at the main entry gate; the national anthem was sung on the first tee along with a flag raising before play began; and the announcement that several young people from the region will receive scholarships through the FOH organization.

In addition, John Deere and the USO announced a new partnership on Thursday, July 4, that among its programs will assist military service members in transitioning to new careers, including with Deere & Co. 

On Friday, July 5, the John Deere Classic hosted the Folds of Honor organization and held several military appreciation events. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

“It’s about embracing the red, white and blue … and acknowledging our service members,” Sarah Bush, director of golf relations for Folds of Honor, said during a news conference Friday at TPC at Deere Run.

Ms. Bush was at the JDC – along with  Elizabeth “Liz” Brees, a medical school student who has been helped by the Folds of Honor organization –  to attend many of the Folds of Honor events.

Ms. Brees also told her personal story and how the organization has helped her and her family. She is a multi-year Folds of Honor scholarship recipient and became a member of the group’s speakers bureau in 2019.

Her association with the group began 24 years ago when her father, Navy Lt. Commander Raymond O’Hare, was killed when his training jet crashed during an instrument approach near the school in Maryland. 

“This group of strangers in uniform came knocking at the door” to tell her mother about the tragedy, she recalled for reporters.

That tragic day came when Ms. Brees was a small child. A few years later, the  FOH organization was formed to help soldiers’ families get an education. Since 2007, the organization has provided life-changing scholarships to the spouses and children of America’s fallen or disabled military. Recently that mission has expanded to include the families of America’s first responders.

Folds of Honor has awarded more than 52,000 scholarships totaling over $240 million in all 50 states. In Illinois, FOH has awarded 1,468 scholarships and 282 in Iowa.

Ms. Brees said the FOH has been like a second family and it has helped “honor my dad” by keeping his name alive.

If all goes according to plan, Ms. Brees will become a doctor soon and serve in the U.S. Air Force. She has just completed her first year of medical school at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine on the Health Professions Scholarship Program through the Air Force. 

She will eventually complete her medical residency in an Air Force hospital, and plans to specialize in pediatric care. Ms. Brees is a lieutenant in the Individual Ready Reserve and will serve as an active-duty Air Force physician upon completing her medical training.

Fold of Honor’s leader Ms. Bush said she is proud that FOH has had a role in helping Ms. Brees accomplish her goals in life. The work of FOH is often a roller coaster of emotions as people are saddened by tragedies, but also happy to see good work accomplished.

“We are all about five seconds from laughing and crying at any given moment,” she added.

Ms. Bush looks forward to more of those success stories in the coming years. Many of those stories could have a Quad Cities connection as the FOH group expects to award 18 scholarships to people in the bistate region.

Those scholarships will be offered to the students by the end of July and will be announced by the end of September, she added.

Quad Cities companies also are helping to fund the scholarships. GreenState Credit Union and Modern Woodmen of America are presenting sponsors. Additional support is being provided by Smart Automotive, Cantrell’s Towing, Fred’s Towing, Crystal Group, Moline Regional Community Foundation, Iowa Healthcare and Pro Em National Event Services.

Paul Plagenz, president and CEO of Moline Regional Community Foundation, released this statement, on veterans and their families being honored at the JDC: “The Moline Regional Community Foundation is honored to support the Veterans and First Responder Viewer Area during the John Deere Classic. These individuals take action every day to selflessly serve our nation and communities. We are grateful for their commitment not only on this holiday weekend, but throughout the year.”  


Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.