By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 7, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 7, 2013) -- Exceeding expectations is a concept many strive for, but Fort Rucker does more than just strive for excellence -- it achieves it, with the latest example being exceeding an aggressive fundraising goal.
The Fort Rucker Army Emergency Relief campaign closed with a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum June 4 and exceeded its goal of $125,000 by more than $6,000 said Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander.
"This is a big deal," he said during the ceremony. "The support that we get here at Fort Rucker continues to amaze.
"Especially in a year of cutbacks and sequestration, I was cautioned this year in increasing the amount of the goal that we were going after," he continued. "When we raised the bar this year … we had a lot of people, with their eyebrows raised, wonder if that was in the realm of possibility."
Last year's campaign brought in more than $116,000, which was about 45 percent of what AER brought in totally for the year on Fort Rucker, said McRae, adding that this year's success was due to continued dedication of all of AER's members and a great kickoff event.
"We had a lot of people coming out with their wallets open, and a lot of leaders across the entire post supported us," he said.
This year's campaign raised more than $15,000 more than last year's, and McRae said that more than 50 percent of aid that is given out on Fort Rucker annually was raised during the campaign.
"Compared to the rest of the Army, Fort Rucker is one of the most, if not the most generous of installations out there," said the garrison commander. "It's just phenomenal the support that people give out here."
Throughout the campaign, which ran from March 1 to June 4, various events were hosted on the installation to help raise funds, such as the annual Jail-a-Thon, put on by the 6th Military Police Detachment.
The Jail-a-Thon gave people on the installation the opportunity to have anyone on Fort Rucker arrested and jailed for a period of time, depending on how much was donated. Those arrested had the choice of serving time, or posting bail, which matched the donation amount.
The event is one of the installations most popular events, and this year's event raised $4,750 for the AER campaign.
"Our [military police officers], as usual, did a fantastic job this year," said McRae, joking that half the money raised came from the arresting of Justin O. Mitchell, Fort Rucker deputy garrison commander. "My hat's off to everybody for going out there and making a fun event that people are willing to give to," he added.
Another event that garners a lot of interest is the Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union's annual golf tournament to benefit AER.
Hundreds of participants show up every year to participate in the tournament at Fort Rucker's Silver Wings Golf Course, and this year's event was no different.
AACFCU donated $15,000 to AER after the tournament, and McRae gave a special thanks to the credit union for their continued support.
"I know that we don't raise nearly the amount of money that you guys give us every year," he said to AACFCU representative, Lisa Hales, during the ceremony. "It's a great golf tournament and it raises a lot of money, but you guys come alongside and consistently fill in the difference, and always donate a lot of money toward a worthy goal … and we very much appreciate that."
McRae showed his appreciation by awarding certificates to Hales and Capt. Brian Wheat, 6th MP detachment commander, for their continued support of AER throughout the campaign.
Maj. Anthony Whittaker, 2013 AER campaign coordinator, was also on-hand to show his support for those who donated their time or money to the campaign.
"Sitting amongst you today are some of the AER leaders that have been critical to the success we have here today," he said. "I just want to thank them for their dedication and support."
It wasn't a single act, but a team effort that helped Fort Rucker's AER campaign succeed, said McRae as he showed his appreciation to those who participated in the AER campaign, especially the point people.
"It was you guys beating the bushes and being persistent that helped us reach and exceed our goal," he said.