Friday, September 17, 2004

Rodeo Chair raises money for local

Amber McMurdo heads drive to get local soldiers home on leave

Amber McMurdo, chairman of the Sawtooth Rangers Riding Club, felt that Idaho reservists of the Hailey Armory on leave before shipping out to Iraq should be able to enjoy R&R at home here in the Wood River Valley. After learning that many soldiers are stuck on base during this pre-dispatch leave, though, she enlisted her business sense and friends such as Melissa Humphries to encourage the community to raise money to get the troops home.

Recently, The Mountain Express had a chance to speak with McMurdo about her efforts:

ME: How are you working to help these troops before they serve?

AM: Our first priority is for the families who cannot afford to fly [their relative] home from base in Louisiana before they are shipped off. They get a 10 to 14 day leave after final training but before shipping out. We are working on getting airline tickets for the soldiers who need them the most.

ME: When did you come up with the idea?

AM: I was visiting my husband in training in Texas and was talking with some wives of troops from Burley who are trying to get their people home and I said ?I?d like to help you guys.? But there was no way I could help from that distance, so I talked to friends with husbands in the Hailey Armory Battalion like Melissa Humphries, and we decided to get something going up here for our group of guys.

ME: How have you implemented the plan?

AM: As chairman of the rodeo, I was able to fundraise through our Labor Day rodeo in Hailey. We had a better turnout that last year; it was not the crowd we had hoped to see, but we raised $3,500 on the weekend and that will be enough to the guys we were worried about home.

I was lucky in that my husband D.J. is a Sergeant and has not taken a large pay cut and will have enough money to come home. We started by helping some of the guys lower on the pay roll. We figured yellow ribbons would be the best thing to sell to raise the money.

ME: How can people contribute?

AM: We are selling $10 raffle tickets for 75 prizes ?everything from oil changes to pizzas?at all valley Atkinson?s and Albertson?s every Saturday. Also yellow ribbons for $5.

ME: Do you have an ultimate goal?

AM: We?ve already reached more than we thought [we would] so we are really happy and hoping that we can help more of the local soldiers who are not in our battalion but who are still in need. We are hoping we can help a lot of people this way.

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