History of Husker Fans Salute the Troops weekend
2023 marks the 16th year for Husker Salute. 2008 was our first year held during the OU game and attended by about 70 veterans and their families. Since then we have had to limit our attendance as it has grown to nearly 500 attendees. Each year we try to improve the experience and being our 16th year we are expecting it to be the best.
The Husker Fans Salute the Troops Foundation is committed to Salute, Serve, and Support Veterans and active military personnel, to ensure that every person with Military ties in Nebraska and surrounding communities feels respected and appreciated for their service and hopeful for the future.
"By providing essential stress-reducing solutions, The Husker Fans Salute the Troops Foundation is focused on making a long-lasting impact on the lives of Veterans and active military and their families. With genuine appreciation and dedicated support services, we strive to prepare Veterans and active military to have successful everyday lives, providing each family hope for tomorrow and ultimately reducing PTSD and suicides in Nebraska and surrounding communities."
1) “Raise Funds via annual Husker Salute Golf Scramble Fundraising Event, private funders, individual donations, federal grants, other fund-raising efforts to specifically support the annual Husker Fans Salute the Troops Events, one $500 scholarship for a veteran to attend UNL, and 2 teams of 4 disabled veterans with complimentary golf at annual event.”
2) “Each year, Husker Salute plans to host a weekend of praise, pampering and preparation for Nebraska Veterans and military families at basically NO cost for approximately 100 military families. Programming will include an inspirational keynote speaker and FUN, FREE, FAMILY orientated activities. Attendees will receive free hotel accommodations, three complimentary meals, and a tour of a Husker Athletic Facilities as permitted.” A small registration fee per family will be charged at registration.
3) At the Annual Husker Fans Salute the Troops Family event, the Foundation will Salute, Serve and Support Veterans and active military by providing them with stress-relieving programs such as celebratory events, relaxing family-centered activities in preparing for successful everyday lives, provide each family hope for tomorrow, and ultimately reduce suicides among military in Nebraska. Such programming could include financial advice, housing assistance; blood pressure measurements; medical consultations; psychological assistance, and new programming each year.
Husker Fans Salute the Troops History
Husker Fans Salute The Troops Foundation is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization (www.huskersalute.org) that salutes, serves and supports events that will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of suicides that have plagued our brave men and women of the military for far too long. Each fall, Salute sponsors a weekend of Husker football that includes a Football Watch Party at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, NE.
Joining in the festivities will be a group of former Husker football greats signing autographs for the attendees. The Watch Party will include lots of great food, door prizes and an appearance by the Cornhusker Pep Band. And on Sunday morning, there will be an Honors Brunch with color guard ceremony in the Main Ballroom. Past speakers at the brunch have included Tom Osborne, Eric Crouch, Trev Alberts, Ron Brown, Curt Tomacevicz, Adrian Fiala and Gold Star Mother, Noala Fritz.
Through the years, Salute has honored nearly 1,100 service members with over 6,000 in attendance including their families.
But how did Salute get started?
How Salute Began
To find out the roots of Salute, let’s go back to 2003. Omahan, Dan McGlynn (aka “Husker Dan”) began writing a blog about Husker football for a website called HuskerMax.com.
Around 2005, a soldier (SGT Myles Frohling) who at the time was deployed in Iraq, wrote Dan asking if he could help him to get T-shirts, ball caps etc. to spread a little Husker spirit to the local children.
From this time, the seeds were sewn for the first Soldier Support idea. Husker Dan agreed to help and quickly undertook building a network (an Army of Nebraskans) to support troopers who were deployed in the Middle East.
A couple of weeks later, Dan received an email from Myles thanking all those Husker fans who had sent items to him. And a couple of weeks later, he sent Dan an urgent message: Please ask your readers not to send any more packages! Myles was overwhelmed with boxes and packages from all over the country! No more, he pleaded!
It was then that Husker Dan realized two things: The power of the Internet and the generosity of Husker fans. Husker Dan’s Army (HDA) was mobilized and was proving that there is no place like Nebraska!
McGlynn thought it would be a great idea if the troopers who were deployed in the Middle East could receive Husker Care Packages. The packages would give them a much needed touch of home. And that’s how “Husker Dan’s Army” came to be.
Then it was time for Gary McGirr to enter into the picture. Gary, who is President Emeritus of the Northeast Kansans for Nebraska (a Husker alumni organization in Topeka, KS), invited Dan to speak at one of the NEK4NU events. As a result, Dan and Gary became good friends. And of course, neither knew at the time what great things they would be doing for military personnel and their families.
Dan and Gary’s first collaboration was HDA. So far, so good, but every cause needs money to survive and HDA was no exception. Before Dan solicited donations through his columns, he wanted to make sure Gary, and the NEK4NU would be willing to handle any money HDA would receive. And once Gary gave his approval, HDA had its first donor! The check was from Betty Walker who grew up a huge Husker fan in Lincoln, Nebraska and later moved to Lincoln, CA. Dan and Betty became friends and spent many phone conversations talking about Husker football. Sadly, Betty was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and died not long after her diagnosis. But even with her passing, Husker Fans Salute The Troops honors her each year with a scholarship given in her name.
And Gary made another great move: He found The Red Zone in Omaha that volunteered to handle the boxing and shipping of all HDA Care Packages. And not long after that, Chris Anderson at UNL, made it possible for Husker game day DVDs to be included in the Care Packages. HDA was now a reality!
One of the early recipients of the Husker Care Packages was CPT Jonathan Harvey who was stationed in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. More on him later.
Several months before that, Gary told Dan of his dream to set aside a day or a weekend to honor members of our nation’s military and their families. Gary wanted to launch Salute for the 2008 Husker Spring Game. Dan tried to talk Gary out of the idea, citing three critical elements: Salute had no money, didn’t have a proper venue for the event and time was running short. Thankfully, Gary didn’t give up on his dream! Finally, on the weekend of November 1st of 2008, the first Husker Salute weekend began. Gary’s dream had come true!
Gary found a great venue (the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel) and with the help of former Husker football player, Jeff Makovicka, Gary also found a major donor in David Fiala, who is also a former Husker football player. David offered to pay for 100 rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott to accommodate the guests and their families. And 13 years later, David is still honoring his original commitment!
Meanwhile, Gary and CPT Harvey had several conversations about the structure of Salute. And for the debut of Salute, CPT Jonathan Harvey flew in to Lincoln to serve as Executive Director for the event. And to this day, CPT Harvey’s structure and ideas are still being used by Salute. Without his efforts, it’s doubtful that any Salute event would ever have taken place.
And David Max, who runs HuskerMax.com, offered his connections to help solicit donations for the annual event. These connections led to getting more involvement from UNL as well as several local radio and TV personalities.
A few years later, Salute received its 501(c)(3) status, thereby allowing donations to be tax deductible. And in 2017, to commemorate Salute’s 10th Anniversary, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, presented Salute with a Proclamation honoring HFSTT. (Note: No one with Salute takes a cent in salary. Every cent we raise goes toward honoring the brave men and women of the military who have sacrificed so much for all of us.)