Teeing Off to Support Children and Veterans


How does a chance encounter on a golf course turn into more than $100,000 to help Floridians in need? For Travis Sands, it came naturally. The Environmental Response Technician III took a swing at helping disadvantaged children and armed forces veterans – typically not much overlap among those two groups – and embarked on a 10-year (and counting) effort that helps both. Whole in one, you might say.

Help a Kid Help a Vet is a Pasco County-based 501c3 nonprofit charity started by two Withlacoochie River Electric Cooperative employees, Tim Jackson and Wade Byrd; the first wanted to help military veterans and the other wanted to help children.

“There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to help both,” Travis said – and after randomly meeting Tim 10 years ago while they played golf and learning about the then-new charity’s upcoming golf fundraiser, Travis knew he could help too. What started as a day of volunteering with Help a Kid Help a Vet grew to a spot for Travis on the charity’s board.

Now, a decade and $100,000-plus in fundraising later, Help a Kid Help a Vet is going strong with no plans to slow down. Travis and team hold several charity events throughout the year, many involving activities for children and families. Regardless of whether it’s family bowling, bingo, golf or something else, the money Help a Kid Help a Vet raises goes to a variety of local and national charities such as The AngelusWreaths Across America and Support the Troops. And that’s not all.

“Sometimes our efforts are focused on just helping fund field trips or providing Christmas gifts to students in need,” Travis said.

“We’re a small fish in a huge pond when it comes to charities,” he continued. “But when we get to present these checks to the charities and we can see how the money will help people, it makes all the extra hours that we put into it outside of work and personal life well worth the effort.”

Lessons learned: a full-day’s work often still leaves at least a little time to help disadvantaged people have fuller lives, as team members like Travis show so well. Just as two great tastes can indeed taste great together, a single effort can help different groups in need in our communities. And next time you have a chance to strike up a conversation with a stranger, you might come away with inspiration that drives you to make the world a better place.

Tampa Electric’s Travis Sands, right, with Help a Kid Help a Vet President Tim Jackson at left and
Vice President Wade Byrd (both Withlacoochee Electric employees).

Travis in his day job with Facility Services.