Awards All Around!

So last night we had our squadron open house. This is an annual event we hold that is part recruiting, generating community support, and recognizing our members through awards and promotions and boy did we get some awards.

First, the squadron was awarded the Quality Cadet Unit Award from our National Headquarters for 2013. We are one of 272 units in the country and 1 of 5 in New Jersey to win this award out of over 1040 units in the organization. The criteria are based on the growth of the Cadet Program and the participation of the cadets within the program.

Secondly, our members, including yours’ truly, were recognized for our work during Hurricane Sandy almost a year ago. Out of the 149 member in New Jersey Wing, CAP that helped support disaster recovery missions during Sandy, 43 were from Schweiker Squadron. I was one of several in the unit that received a National Commander’s Commendation for my work in managing the flight and ground operations. We also had a few members receive Exceptional Service Awards for their work during Sandy.

Many of the unit staff members, again including me, received Unit Achievement Awards for our work at the squadron. Mine was for my work as Operations Officer for the unit. We also had several cadet promotions and other awards as well.

This shows you the level of participation and dedication our members have not only in their personal development but also in service to the unit and community. This is why I am dancing. The funds that I raise can help more of these members become trained to help support missions like Sandy or help our cadets progress through the program by helping them offset the cost of attending activities that they need for promotions or development.

So this is your last chance to show your support and donate using our online donation site, https://capdonation-dwts.eventbrite.com/. It will shut down at midnight tomorrow night. If you miss the opportunity to donate online or want to mail a donation, you can make the check out to “Civil Air Patrol” and mail it to 110 Avocet Lane, West Deptford, NJ 08086. Deadline for them to receive donations is September 24.

Last chance to support us!

Well folks, September 18th is coming up fast and that means that time is running out to support by making an online donation at https://capdonation-dwts.eventbrite.com/. My original offer stands that for every online donation, I will send that person an autograph picture of me. Please help me out because it will be weird if the only pictures I send out are to my family. I also want to remind you that you can still get tickets for the finale on September 26th by going to the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce site. Tickets are $50 for dinner and a show. Come on people, I have an aunt in Florida that is coming up for this so if you live in Gloucester County, you really have no excuse not to come out. Trust me, you will enjoy the show. I can’t speak for everyone, but I you will definitely like my finale routine with Christy. All I am allowed to tell you is that I hope I don’t drop her and I may be slightly embarrassed about my mom being there to see this show.

Speaking of shows, one of the other dancers, Kathy Streck, AKA ZumbaKathy, is hosting a “Viewing / Wine & Cheese Party” on September 18th at the Broadway Theater in Pitman, NJ starting at 7pm. There she will be showing all four episodes of the show. The cost is $20 and if you mention that I sent you, CAP gets $10 of the fee so it is also a fundraiser. If you want more information, please email me or post a comment.

My squadron is also hosting our annual Open House on Monday, September 16th starting at 7pm at the National Guard Armory, 200 Park Blvd, cherry Hill, NJ. I will hopefully be able to play videos of my participation and I will also have the banner there for supporters to sign. Again, email me or comment if you want more info.

Gotta go and order a new pair of dance shoes (Ghost ate my current ones in a fit of panic) so I have them for my next practice. I’ll be back next week.

I’m back and birthday wishes

Hey everyone! The Dancing Colonel is back. I decided to take a short break following the taping of the first four shows. I was also a little bit under the weather, but I am back and ready to start working on our finale dance for September 26th. There are also a couple of other dates coming up that I would like to share with you as they are important to me. The first is today, August 26th. It is the 12th anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful and supporting wife, Pam. She has always been there for me even when I come up with crazy ideas such as dancing, running a marathon, or skiing on the day of my aunt’s wedding (that’s a story in itself that I might tell you later). We met in 1995, while we were both volunteering at the Glassboro Ambulance Squad and yes, Civil Air Patrol played a part in it. A mutual friend of ours, Nicole, introduced us. Nicole was a member of my CAP squadron and is in the one group picture that I posted previously (the posed group shot of me and my ground team in BDUs). So I guess I should have included a wedding photo in that post as well. Anyway, I want to wish Mrs Colonel a happy anniversary and offer a big thank you for putting up with my craziness all these years. The second date I would like to share with you is my birthday, coming up next week on September 3rd. You are probably thinking, “So, how old will you be?” Well, let’s just say I will be “the answer to life, the universe and everything” (punch another hole in your geek card if you get it). Do you want to know what I want for my birthday? Other than World Peace, I would love for you to make a donation to the Civil Air Patrol at https://capdonation-dwts.eventbrite.com/. As thanks, I will personally email an autographed picture of me to everyone who makes an online donation. Wait, a full color autograph picture of “the man”!? That’s right. Now you can impress your friends and family with your proudly displayed picture of me. So stop what you are doing (ok, finish reading this first) and show your support.

I know I said I would post some video of the taping, but unfortunately the video that Pam took isn’t the best quality (it was taken on a Blackberry..boo, hiss…) so I won’t be doing that, but the shows will start airing on local TV starting the week of September 2nd with a new episode every week leading up the to finale. If you live in the Gloucester County area, you can pick it up on Comcast channel 5. It will also be broadcast on the local Verizon channel, but I will have to confirm the channel number and get back to you. When I get a copy of those I will post them.

I want to also take a moment to thank a few people for all their help with this great opportunity. As I already mentioned, I want to thank my wife, Pam. Christy Kam, my instructor and partner, you are amazing as both and I don’t think I would be as graceful as I have been without your help and training. I want to thank my charity, Civil Air Patrol and the members of the Jack Schweiker Squadron, for providing some of the best experiences of my life and the skills that help make me who I am today. There is also Anita Gates who has helped with making my signs, flyers and postcards. She even hosted one of my fundraising events. Anita, you are wonderful! Lt Col Bob Jennings, my commander and one of my closest friends, who has been rallying the troops and helping with organizing the fundraising. Bob, you’re “the man” (a simple caveman, but “the man” none the less). I want to thank the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce for organizing and hosting this event for the past eight years and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of this great show. Rob, Keith, Kathy, Angela, and Bonnie, my fellow dancers, and their partners, thanks for the fun, laughter and friendship as we travel down this road. Finally, I want to thank all of you out there who have supported me by either reading this blog, attending the events, or donating. On behalf of CAP, squadron and myself, thank you.

So, its time to put the dancing shoes on and get back to work! See you all soon.

P.S. If you want to attend the finale, you can purchase your tickets here. Tickets are $50 and include dinner and a show at Auletto’s Ballroom (please be aware that the funds from ticket sales do NOT go to any of the charities). Please come out and support me.

Colonel out.

Just a quick note about tonight

DWTS group tues night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have finished the first night of taping for Gloucester County Dancing with the Stars. I am happy with my performance, got some good feedback from the judges and I am tired. Get to do the whole thing again tomorrow. I will go into more detail with photos and such this weekend once I am done. Just a reminder, if you couldn’t make it tonight there is still tomorrow. 6:30 doors open, 7 pm start at Auletto Caterers in Deptford. Come out, I need all the support I can get.

Down to the wire and why am I doing this

We are only two days away before the first of two nights of taping for Dancing with the Stars. Christy, my partner, and I have worked hard up to this point and I think we are ready to go. After Wednesday, we will have about a month to work on our finale dance. I don’t know what that is going to look like but I do remember early on that Christy asked if I have any “back issues” and do I still have my tap shoes. So we will just have to see. This also means I have about a month to rock out on the fundraising as well. I am still planning one or two more events and as soon as I have firm dates I will let everyone know. However, do not let that stop you from donating. You can go to http://www.capdonation-dwts.eventbite.com and make an online donation or mail a check to the Greater Woodbury Chamber. Those details are on my “About” page.

One of the things about doing all of this is that I have been reminiscing about my time in CAP and what it has meant to me over the 28 years that I have been with the program.

I started out as a shy, awkward kid:

My brother and me 85

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And became a confident (if not sometimes Cocky) person:

MacArthur shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made some great friends:

NJW Cadet Ball 87-GSAR Staff shot A GSAR Family Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got to do some really neat stuff:

 

 

Solo School 88

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I got to repay CAP by training and mentoring the next generation of cadets:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BE92 Confidence Course Safety Brief

 

 

 

 

 

 

I earned a lot of awards and I continue to be very successful in CAP but I will always be indebted to CAP and no matter how long I am in or how many people I help, it will never equal what the program was able to give me. It gave me more time with my great-grandmother and taught me how precious life is.

It was spring of my senior year at West Deptford High School. I was having one of the best years of my life. I was getting ready to graduate and go to college. I was almost ready to take the test for the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz award which is the highest cadet award in CAP. This particular night, I was to attend a dinner and be recognized for my selection to NJ Boy’s State. I came home from school earlier than usual to get ready for the dinner. Bubbie, my great-grandmother, was living with us at the time and she was home with my younger brother Zach. I was in my room when my brother came running in saying something was wrong with Bubbie. Zach was about 6 at the time and I could tell he was upset by something. So I followed him downstairs and he took me into our laundry room. The laundry room leads to the garage and as I walked into the room, I noticed the door into the garage was open but the light was out. As I got closer to the door I noticed Bubbie laying on the garage floor, she fell. I turned on the light and I could hear her moaning and she looked confused. What I didn’t notice until I knelt next to her was the pool of blood around her head. The garage floor is a maroon color and with the lighting it was difficult to see the blood until I was closer.

As I mentioned, she was moaning but confused trying to get up but her limbs didn’t want to work with her. I knew it was bad. That previous winter I had completed the American Red Cross Advanced First Aid class through CAP and she was showing clear signs of a head trauma. When Zach saw the blood he started to get upset. Thanks to the hours of training and practice that I went through with the member of my CAP unit, I took control of the situation. I told Zach to go down a couple of houses and get one of our neighbors that I knew was home and told him to bring him to the house. While he did that, I quickly grabbed towels that were in the laundry room and applied pressure to the back of her head to control the bleeding. As I slowly reached behind her, I could tell by the flatness she had a skull fracture. During this time, I kept talking to her, telling her she was going to be ok and to keep looking at me. I was worried about her losing consciousness. After a few minutes that felt like hours, Zach returned with our neighbor, Bob Whaller. I told Bob to get the phone in the kitchen, call 911 and I proceeded to tell him what he needed to tell the dispatcher is relation to her injuries and status. After he got off the phone, he brought me some more towels and asked what else he could do. I did everything I could for Bubbie at this point and it was just a matter of keeping her stable until the ambulance. Now this was in a time before cell phones and I can’t remember if we were able to get hold of my mom before she left work or not but I do know that she was not home yet when the ambulance came. By the time the ambulance arrived, we had the garage door open ready for them, my brother was at the Whaller’s house with his friend Justin and Bob was with me helping Bubbie. I remember being relived when the ambulance got there because the first person out was a woman named Linda. Linda was an EMT with West Deptford but she was also an aide at my middle school years ago and seeing someone I knew made me feel better. I remember the conversation that took place once they took over for me treating Bubbie. The adults were all talking among themselves almost like I wasn’t there. The other EMT commented on how well everything was handled and Bob told him that he did’t do anything except what I told him. He said he wasn’t he would have know what to do if he found her by himself. Linda looked over at me and winked and by then the adrenaline started to come down and I started to tear up. The other EMT looked over at me, he was an older man and I never remembered his name, and said, “If you every want to join the ambulance, you can ride with me.”

I made it to my dinner that night. I didn’t want to go. I felt I should stay at the hospital with my parents or stay home and make sure Zach was ok, but my mom told me that Bubbie would not want me to miss the dinner so I went. To this day, I don’t remember much about the dinner. Later we found out that Bubbie was coming into the laundry room from the garage and she lost her balance on the step up into the laundry room. She suffered a fractured skull but there were no permanent injuries. To this day, I believe that if I didn’t have the training I got through CAP, Bubbie would not have recovered as well as she did. She might not have survived. And I am not talking just about the first aid training I received but also the confidence to take control of the situation. Without what I learned in CAP, I don’t think Bob would have been as comfortable as he was in letting me handle the situation and telling him what to do. My squadron commander found out about what happened, probably through my parents, and I was awarded the Certificate of Recognition for Lifesaving.

I have done a lot of things in CAP, many of which were fun. But CAP also taught me things that helped me make an impact on not only my life but of others as well.

Online donation page up and running

I have created an online donation site for those that want to help me reach our fundraising goal. Go to http://capdonation-dwts.eventbrite.com and make a donation. Not sure how much to donate? Want to know how the funds raised can help our unit? Go back and read some of my past posts:

So How Far Does My Donation Go?

Donations and Force Multipliers

The site will be taking donations until September 18th so that we can ensure we get it before the September 26th finale. You can also send checks made out to “Civil Air Patrol” at the address listed in the “About” page

Remember, CAP is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Corporation.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Dancing update

Hey, Twinkletoes, how is the dancing going?

 

I have spent a lot of time talking about the fundraising side of Dancing with the Stars so I wanted to take a moment and bring you up to speed on how the dancing is going. Well, there is less than two weeks until our performance at Auletto Caterers. During these two nights each group will be doing the dances we have been sweating over. I don’t know how the others are doing but I will tell you that I don’t know if I would have gotten as far as I have gotten without the help of my great partner and instructor, Christy Kam. As of this date, we have finished the choreography for all four dances and we are just practicing with the music to fine tune our steps. (It’s more about fine-tuning my steps than hers). I personally think that if we had to perform our dances today we would be a serious contender. I am actually starting to get a little excited about the next few weeks. This reminds me of high school doing the school musicals. A couple of days before opening night, we are starting to do our dress rehearsals, we have everything down but we just need to tighten up a few small things. This is where I feel I am at with the dancing. I am still practicing at home on my own but I do not have a lot of anxiety about my performance.

 

So here is a challenge for you. Come out to one of the two nights, either 8/13 or 8/14, and let me know how I did. These two nights are free but I only have 30 seats, so please reach out to me ahead of time so I can make sure I have a seat for you. If you can’t make it and still want to show your support, make a donation to Civil Air Patrol. I have the information at the end of this post as well as on my “About” page. I would really like to see some of my old high school musical friends come out because I hope they get to remember some of the good times we had while watching me dance. I know I have been thinking a lot about those times and smiling and laughing about them as I practice.

 

I need a fan club and you want dinner and a show

Ok, I need a fan club and you want a dinner and a show. As many of you know, I am dancing this year with Gloucester County Dancing with the Stars raising money for Civil Air Patrol. In less than two weeks, I will have the opportunity to show what I have been working on. August 12th and 13th at Auletto Caterers in Deptford. On these two nights our performances will be taped and broadcast on Comcast channel 5 until the finale on Sept 26th at Auletto Caterers.

I have 30 seats for my “fan club” on each night. The two nights in August are free to attend and spectators are encouraged to bring signs and cheer on their dancer. If you would like to come out and watch me dance and cheer me on, please let me know through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or email which night(s) you plan on coming by. I want to make sure that I have enough space for my family, friends and other supporters. During the two nights, all the dancers will be performing the four dance styles we have been working on; East Coast Swing, Country Two-Step, the Waltz, and the Polka (yes, the Polka).

If you want to come to the finale which is when all the dancers are presented checks representing the money raised for their charity, other awards are presented, and watch us perform our “signature” dance which will be a more elaborate version of one or more of the four dances you will need to purchase tickets. If you but tickets from me you will be seated at one of my tables. It is $50 per ticket and includes dinner.

So let’s have some fun (mostly at my expense). Please let me know if you can come out. Also, please follow my blog at http://colonelizzy.com where I talk about my experiences during this great opportunity, the fundraising we are doing and how you can help.Image

So how far does my donation go?

So in the last post I answered the question about what is an appropriate amount to donate and how that can be multiplied through your friends and family. So the next big question asked is “How does my donation help the organization?” Well, that is a great question and here are a few ways that your donation helps out the unit.

One $20 donation can cover the operating cost for the squadron for one month. Fortunately, we do not have a lot of regular expenses thanks to our host at the NJ National Guard Armory in Cherry Hill. Our biggest reoccurring expense is our broadband service.

Two $20 donations ($40) can help buy a pair of boots for a cadet that may not be able to afford them. Black combat style boots are part of our BDU uniform which is also the uniform that we wear the most during our time in the program.

Three $20 donations ($60) can purchase one set of BDU uniforms for a cadet. This is just the uniform, this does not include boots, insignia or anything else.

Four $20 donations ($80) can subsidize 50% of the cost for a cadet to attend a basic encampment. This is a week long program that is required for cadets to become cadet officers as well as a prerequisite to attend other special activities that CAP offers annually such Falcon Flight, PJOC, Cadet Officer School and IACE.

Five $20 donations ($100) can cover the cost of one hour of flying time in a CAP aircraft. While all our flights that we do during missions are covered by the Air Force or the organization the request us, training flights for our crews are not always covered. This hour can help a three person aircrew perform proficiency training to keep their skills strong and current or allow us to qualify a new aircrew member in their initial training.

So as you can see, $20 can go along way in our unit to helping us train our cadets as well keep us ready to perform our missions for America.

Our goal is to raise enough money to set aside $2000-$3000 for cadet “scholarships” to help with uniforms, activity cost, and in some cases membership fees. There have been times in the past where parents have not been able to keep their child in the program due to these cost because of the loss of jobs or other financial hardships. We do not want to see cadets lose out because of money. It would be great if we could run large activities at no cost to the members or be able to outfit cadets with the uniforms and equipment they need without the parents having to take on the burden of the cost.

We also want to set up an “Aircrew Simulator” at our unit so that our aircrews can train while on the ground through flight simulator programs and equipment. I had the opportunity to use a simulator created by members of the Texas Wing Civil Air Patrol that consisted of three monitors, two flight control setups and Flight simulator software developed for us that allowed us to create a realistic cockpit environment where the aircrew could fly missions and train for emergencies during missions, practice our planned missions before going up in the real thing, and reviewing our missions afterwards to address issues that occurred during the mission. The cost for the complete setup is estimated to be about $2000.

So our total fundraising goal for us is $5,000. This will help us achieve both of these goals. If we raise more money we will use it for some of our other projects that we are looking at becoming more involved in with our members such as participating in CyberPatriot, a national high school cyber security competition hosted by the Air Force Association and Northrop Grumman, model rocketry, and communications. These programs will hopefully help inspire our cadets to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).