What began as a new sponsorship and volunteer opportunity for RDO Equipment Co. team members at the Fort Worth location ended up being an impactful and unforgettable experience for those who participated.
The Fort Worth store was a sponsor of the seventh-annual Weekend to Remember, an event hosted by the Halo for Freedom Warrior Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting military veterans who have been wounded in the line of duty. For the Weekend to Remember, wounded warriors – many of whom have lost arms or legs as a result of their service – are invited from across the country to the Fort Worth area to participate in a multi-day lineup of events, from aerial hog hunts and target shooting, to parachuting, racecar driving, and bow fishing.
The opportunity to be a part of the event arose when Halo for Freedom founder and RDO Equipment Co. customer Dana Bowman visited the Fort Worth store to ask about a sponsorship. Bowman, a retired Sergeant First Class with the U.S. Army, served in the Special Forces and was a member of the Army’s elite parachute team, the Golden Knights. In 1994, Bowman’s life changed forever when a parachuting accident cost him both of his legs.
Despite his setback, Bowman went on to re-enlist in the Army, something a double-amputee had never done before. He became a motivational speaker and eventually went on to establish the Halo for Freedom Warrior Foundation.
According to General Manager Matt Daniell, it didn’t take much research after Bowman’s visit to decide the event was a worthy cause to get involved with.
“We’re lucky enough to work for a company that encourages us to give back to the community, to give something of ourselves,” he said. “We thought it was a good opportunity to pay those guys back who sacrificed so much for our country.”
The Fort Worth store provided skid steers, a compact excavator, and even a 450K dozer for the warriors to try out as part of the Weekend to Remember events. Tim Snyder, Customer Service Advisor, was among the team members on-site to assist with the equipment and ensure the participants got the most out of their experience with RDO Equipment Co.
“Going into it, I didn’t know what kind of impact we would have on the participants or vice versa,” Tim said. “But I figured, how can we go wrong supporting the heroes who have fought and been injured for our freedom?”
Many participants relished the opportunity to let loose on the heavy equipment, telling the team members that the experience proved therapeutic. Even those who were hesitant to get into the operator’s seat of the machines walked away with smiles after trying them out. And while the participants enjoyed the machinery, the larger impact of the day may have been made on the group of team members who were there to help.
“These guys would get done on the equipment and they’d come up and thank us for letting them run our equipment, but they’re the ones who gave everything,” Matt said. The observation was seconded by Tim, who noted that the warriors’ overall demeanor was nothing short of inspirational.
“Everyone out there was extremely appreciative and generous,” he said. “No matter the injury, they figured out a way to do whatever they wanted to do. They were humble and proud, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been around a great group of guys.”
It was a day of honor and emotion for the Fort Worth team members at the event, extending far beyond a simple sponsorship into something even more meaningful.
“It was an extremely moving experience,” Matt said. “We work for a world-class organization that encourages us to give back to the community, and that’s all we were trying to do with this event. But it turned out to be even more gratifying than I expected it to be – to be able to help those guys, shake their hands, and just talk to them for a little bit."