Leaderboard – James “J.B.” Ball…A Father And Son Give Back To Our Troops
James “J.B.” Ball thinks the Kevin Bacon trivia game has got it all wrong. Ball, the President of Tee it up for the Troops, believes six degrees of separation is a stretch. Ball’s round-the-clock dedication to giving back to our past and present military members has convinced him that we are removed from our furthest neighbor by just two degrees.
“My involvement with Tee it up for the Troops and the game of golf has proven to me that we are all amazingly connected. What started out as a small group raising money in a golf tournament has grown into something greater than I could have ever imagined. Since 2005, we’ve raised $1.2 million for our fallen and disabled military members and their families,” Ball said.
The amazing birth of an organization, energized to helping those who protect us, began in 2005 when friends and family asked what they could do. That’s when Ball searched for a way to help his son who was serving in Iraq. “Tyler suggested that rather than shipping items to him, why not do something for the military back home that needed assistance. That’s how this all started,” Ball recalled. Another individual that has embraced the goals and efforts of Tee it up for the Troops is LTC (Retired) Harry A. Wisdom, Jr. who served in Vietnam as a Med Evac pilot. Wisdom was awarded the Silver Star and numerous other awards for valor during his tour in Vietnam. LTC Wisdom was invited to a bible study to talk with parents of kids serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to try to help them understand what these soldiers were going through and thinking during their time in conflict. During these sessions Wisdom learned about the efforts of the TIUFTT group and got on board. According to Ball “Colonel Wisdom has been a huge asset and contributor to our efforts.”
In four short years, Tee it up for the Troops, has raised scholarship money, assisted in the recovery of wounded service men and women, provided lodging and meals for the family members of soldiers recovering from injuries, purchased customized prosthetics, sent care packages, provided toys for children of soldiers, funded rehab programs, and shipped all sorts of equipment and sporting goods to soldiers abroad. More than anything, the organization reminds military members and families who are hurting that someone cares and that they have not been forgotten.
The heart and soul of Tee it up for the Troops is their annual National Day of Golf program. The event started in 2005 at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights, MN. It has since become a national event with golf courses from coast to coast participating. “Golf is the perfect sport to host our commitment to the troops. The sport has had a special connection to our military dating back to the victory gardens of World War II,” Ball said.
In addition to honoring past and present local veterans, Tee it up for the Troops flies in military members from around the country who are rehabbing at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. This year’s event is especially significant because it falls on September 11. “In addition to troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re especially privileged to have military from past wars participate. Prior to the afternoon shot gun start, we have an honor guard, wreath laying, a bagpiper, and the playing of Taps, National Anthem, and God Bless America. It’s a special day to honor those who have served, as well as those currently in harms way,” Ball explained. The public is invited and encouraged to attend this emotional and patriotic ceremony that takes place after the morning shot gun and prior to the afternoon groups teeing off.
The event features many local sports celebrities who dedicate their time and money. But Tee it up for the Troops leaves no doubt who the real celebrities are. Most five-some has at least one past or present military member. The event includes many local and national sponsors that have supported Tee it up for the Troops efforts over the years.
Ball was asked if there was a soldier’s story that particularly captured what Tee it up for the Troops is all about. The soft spoken Ball recalled visiting Walter Reed Hospital and seeing a gaunt soldier with a prosthetic leg who weighed about 130 pounds. “The heavy meds were really taking a toll on this soldier from Michigan. I encouraged the solider to consider attending our National Day of Golf in Minnesota,” Ball said.
Ball was thrilled to learn that the soldier decided to take him up on his offer. “I suggested to this young man that he should speak with some of the others attending the event that had gone through similar experiences,” Ball reflected.
When Ball went back to Washington D.C. about a year, later he couldn’t believe his eyes. “The soldier was up to about 185 pounds and in terrific physical condition,” Ball said. The soldier’s physical condition was only the beginning of what turned out to be a total revelation for Ball. “He called me over and said, “Thank you.” I said, “Why would someone who has given his right leg be thanking me?” Ball said tearfully. The soldier replied, “Because the golf event in Minnesota was the turning point in my recovery.”
If you or your golf course would like to be involved in the National Day of Golf on September 11, 2009, check out
www.teeitupforthetroops.com or call (952) 646-2490.
Here is a chance for golfers to say “thanks.” This is your chance to make a difference in someone’s life by playing golf for one day.