Students raise funds for the American Widow Project

San Marcos, TX

Four teams of public relations campaigns students will present a check of about $6,000 to the American Widow Project.
The students in Chuck Kaufman’s class produced four strategic events from San Marcos to Killeen to reach this total.
Taryn Davis, founding CEO of the nonprofit organization, said, “I’m absolutely floored by the results of these incredible events. No matter how much they raised, it was an honor for the class just to think of doing this for the widows.”
Davis, who attended Texas State University, was a 2009 CNN Heroes award winner and has received national attention for helping more than 1,200 widows throughout the country to cope with their loss and reintegrate into society.

The American Widow Project is based in Buda. Davis’s husband, Cpl. Michael Davis, died in Iraq during combat seven years ago and inspired the founding of the organization. At the time, Davis was 21. The organization supports widows of military service members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“Obviously, I’m very proud of all of the students on so many fronts,” said Kaufman, a Texas State University senior lecturer. “We have a fabulous client. They showed great resourcefulness, enterprise and learned a lot about planning, executing and evaluating during the course of a campaign.”

The students presented a wide variety of events, all with patriotic themes.
• In Killeen on March 21, “The Remembrance Fashion Show” featured fashions from Dillard’s and widows as models and attracted about 200 patrons.
• At the Marc in San Marcos on March 29, “The Red, White and Badass” country music concert featured The Hill Country Gentlemen, Landon Bullard, Dry River Religion, JJ Garrett Band, and Jake Kellen and attracted another 200 or so.
• One team organized a talent show called “Mr. and Mrs. Stars and Stripes.” Students with a variety of “talents” showed their stuff for a raucous student audience.
• “Combat Chaos” challenged teams of four on a crossfit obstacle course.
Davis said she loved the patriotic themes, logos, creative and strategic thinking, and the opportunities the events created for the widows.

“I think the fact that the models for the ‘Remembrance’ event were military spouses and widows is what makes the event special,” Davis said. “These women and what they give and sacrifice on a daily basis is incredible.”

Samantha Woods of Nolanville, Texas, wrote online after the fashion show, “What an honor to be in the same room with such caring supportive, phenomenal people.” Vanessa Joseph, a “Remembrance” team member noted that her father served the military overseas, so the event was personal to her and her brother, Michael, also a team member. “We feel lucky our father was able to come home,” she said. “These widows weren’t so fortunate and their situations and Taryn’s work were inspirational to all of us.”

Sequoia Owens said the AWP and the fundraising event celebrated the fact that “after tragic events the widows can come together and still support each other.” Their event actually has connected numerous events to AWP. There are more than 180 widows from the conflict in the Middle East who are living at Fort Hood, the nation’s largest military installation.
Joshua Quinn said the “Combat Chaos” campaign event also raised awareness of a growing population of a generation of young widows for everyone involved in the effort between San Antonio and Austin. “The mission of AWP aligns so closely with Texas States University’s 2012 – 2017 Diversity Plan that administration and staff will begin looking for ways to also support the underrepresented group of family, spouses and widows of service members,” Quinn said.
Morgan Goodson, who worked on the talent show, said the campaigns class taught her about the process of planning a campaign and generating positive outcomes for clients. “I know I will be able to use these skills once I graduate and get a job.”

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