Veteran Carriers: Trucking For a Cause Golf Tournament


Kiko Nieves, Conan “Oz” Higgins, Roy White, Damien Shields

When I got the invite to attend Veteran Carriers(VC) third annual Trucking for a Cause Golf Tournament to benefit the TACP - Tactical Air Control Party Foundation on May 13, I loaded up my Jeep and headed south to Sapelo Island.

Cruising down I-95 with me is Kym Hogan, a corporate recruiter for Yancey Brothers and a chatty close friend who may be more amped than I am to spend the morning with TACP supporters. With her hair whipping around, Kym asks me to explain what TACP is.

While giving her the abbreviated version of TACP– a division of the Air Force that calls in airstrikes for the military–I get a call from VC event coordinator and recruiter Tabitha Guy. My Jefferson County home-girl tells us to park next to VC’s mammoth electric blue Peterbilt 389, where we are greeted by a group of Sapelo Hammock’s Golf Course “owners.”

I meet Marilyn Saxon, a five-year SHGC owner who shares a little of the back story of the coastal golf course. “12 years ago, the previous owner was bankrupt and the golf club closed. 12 people in the Southerland Bluff community purchased the club and made large investments into what it is today. We now have 166 owners/investors that support the club from clean up days and maintenance- we are a hands-on club,” shares the SHGC board member.

Making a lap through the classy golf clubhouse, I do a double take when I see VC’s “general counsel” Conan “Ox” Higgins wearing red, white and blue capri jockey pants, long white socks, a red shirt and jaunty white cap.

The Maine native points over the rail to Irishman Damien Shields who is looking like a mirror image of Ox and singing “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Wait! There are two more colorful characters making up the VC team - Roy White and Kiko Rieves who join their teammates for my best pic of the day!

Arriving with Kiko is his vivacious fiance, Emalee Tison. Asking Emalee how the two met, I giggle when she tells me, “I was a firefighter, he was a cop, he told me I was too old for him - I told him he wasn’t!” Five years later, I’m happy to say that Emalee was right!

More volunteers arrive so I snap pics of Marilyn with Cheryl O’Kelley and Kathy Carey, Marcia Hardy with Mary Richard then take a seat to chat with Sapp’s Wrecker Service team. I meet longtime driver Bryan Dixon, his uncle, Waynesboro GA native George Dixon, Savannah native Thomas Powell and LA (Lower Alabama) quiet guy Kane McKinney.

Next up is Hannah Cooch, one of the planners for the golf tournament, who explains to Kym what we are doing here today. “Trucking for a Cause raises funds to give support to the families of fallen TACP. Wes Kubie lost his life almost a year ago. The money raised today will help his wife Abby take care of her three children by getting a car at 16, college expenses and starting their adult lives,” shares the vivacious blonde.

It’s go time! Watching dozens of golf carts zoom past me to play in over 170 acres filled with live oak trees and marsh views, I jump on a cart with Tabitha, Kym and Emalee to follow VC founders and former TACPs Rob Cooch and Cliff White out to the first hole.

As I watch Cliff teach Abby’s youngest son how to swing a golf club, I think of what Cliff told me earlier: “The coolest thing about having success is being able to help others in need; that’s the American way and what life’s about.” None of it hits as hard as when he says, “I was one of the fortunate ones to make it home, some of my brothers didn’t make it back, this is a chance to take care of the families of those that are no longer here.”

This is why I drove an hour to a coastal golf course at 0-dark-thirty to watch 144 supporters raise over $127,000 for the TACP Foundation. 

Knowing that every penny of their net profit is going to ease the financial burden of Abby and her three children is all the reason I need to support Veteran Carriers. See y’all next year!

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