If you aren't familiar with Banded Brigade Outdoors it was created by Tally Hall and Brad Davis as a way to give back to members of the armed forces both current and former. The charity puts together hunting and fishing trips for veterans as well as active military members. The goal of these trips is to help these men and women to overcome traumatic injury both physical and mental. I had the chance to talk with the one and only Tally Hall about BBO and the upcoming Armed Forces Appreciation Night.
How long have you been a part of Banded Brigade?
Banded Brigade Outdoors really started when Brad and I realized that through Brad's Brigade that we were really just doing our part as soccer players. We wanted to go off and kind of encompass as people having as big of an impact as possible, we would need to start our own 501(c)( 3) so that has been our charity over the last two years.
How has it grown in that time?
It really started with having two hunts a year and now we are doing over twenty hunts of varying sizes and now we also have fishing trips. We are a part of fishing trips, we are a part of fishing tournaments and we are having our first 5k charity run July 5. So we are expanding but the way we are expanding is we haven't gotten away from our approach that we want to be involved. It should be hands on and we should be building relationships with the men and women that we are trying to take out who are either active duty or veterans.
How do you guys end up hooked up with the people that you take out on hunts?
There are a bunch of different ways. We have the veteran community and we are an official partner with USO Houston and their record speaks for themselves. They have been a great partner for us.
What does it mean to you to be able to see how much it has grown over the last two years?
It's been like...to reach as many men and women as we possibly can and we really want to take advantage of that and affect people's lives in a positive way.
How does Banded Brigade Outdoors operate? Is it primarily through donation?
Budweiser has been a huge sponsor for us from the beginning. For every assist Brad has and for every save I have they donate money. So Budweiser has been great. We have a lot of private donations and we have a lot of in-kind donations where ranches and hunting facilities have come forward and said ‘What you are doing is something I believe in and I would like to help out. Here is a hunting lease that you can take military men and women, veterans and you can take them and you can go shoot some deer, some ducks, hogs whatever it is. Go fishing'. So we have donations coming from different sources and in different ways.
Are all of the hunts in Texas or are some of the donor ranches located elsewhere?
Most of the hunts are in Texas. Our home base is at a place called Halls Bayou Ranch and they have been extremely generous from the beginning. This year we are going to be hunting in Wyoming and we are looking to expand into other states but we are looking to do it the right way. We have had the opportunity to say hey we could send people over to a certain ranch but we wouldn't have that hands on connection. We wouldn't be able to build relationships with the active duty and veteran personnel. That's something that is important for us. We aren't just trying to give them the best hunt of their lives. We are trying to make an impact and that takes more than just a weekend.
Do you stay in contact with the people you guys have taken out?
Yes, we have people on our board that continue to keep in contact with everyone we take out.
Are you and Brad able to go out on many of the hunts?
Not as many as we like! We definitely try to work around a very busy schedule to go out hunting. With January camps and seasons running into late November it doesn't give us a ton of time but we are very committed to making as many hunts as possible. We have board members that are committed that are a part of the charity who will be at every single hunt.
Is it still set up where fans can donate [Dynamo] tickets to games for service members?
Yeah, fans can go to houstondynamo.com/brigade. This is something that is so cool. It's something that Brad and I are very passionate about and it's very personal for us. When you have something that you are this passionate about and then Houston Dynamo fans back you up and show support by donating tickets. We have season holders who say we can't use our tickets please use them for that. We have people call in and buy them for the armed forces men and women and their family. It means a lot. Dynamo fans continue to surprise...not surprise that's not the right word, they continue to surpass expectation of what it means to be a fan. They cheer you through the good times and through the bad. They support our community endeavors whether it's Dynamo Charities or whether it's Brad and I starting our own charity. They are right there to support us.
With the ticket donations are you guys looking at expanding that to the Dash games as well?
We would love to. With the Dash being in their first year we haven't really set in stone what we would like to do but Brad and I have definitely talked to each other about expanding into the Dash. We have also talked about expanding to other MLS teams and, not just have it be a Houston thing, to have it be a part of Major League Soccer. Since we are a Houston thing we of course want the Houston Dash to be a part of that.
To bring things to the game that is coming up on July 4 was it coincidence that the Appreciation game ended up being on the Fourth or do they try to land it as close to the Fourth as they can?
Usually, they do try to stick it on that July 4 weekend and I think with it falling on a Friday I think they saw an opportunity to make a bigger deal out of it. It's so cool the game is sold out. Last I heard days ago we were close to the 2,000 tickets donated mark. That was a few days ago so we might have already reached it. This is such a cool opportunity on a Friday. Brad and I absolutely love this game. It's an opportunity for us as players, for the Houston Dynamo as a team and for Houston as a city to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us.
Do those games have a different feel to them knowing that it's Armed Forces Appreciation?
Gosh, if we were able to think like robots I'd say absolutely not we just focus on the game. But this game for Brad and I it can't help but have more meaning for us. It's something we care a lot about. We definitely can't try harder because every game we are giving 100% but I would love to cap a thank you for what you've done to them with a win. It would mean a lot to me.
What went into having the city of Houston declare it Armed Forces Appreciation Night?
To be honest I wasn't a major part of that. It was very much Brad and his full commitment. Whether it was Brad's Brigade, I was there to help out as much as possible any way I could and so Brad really spearheaded that effort and I think the city kind of took hold of that. Now it's Brad and Tally's Banded Brigade it has continued. To be a part of that too means a lot to me and to have it mean that much to the city is a very cool feeling.
For people reading this what are some of the ways for them to get involved with Banded Brigade and help out with it?
You can always go to bbocharity.org and that is Banded Brigade Outdoors website. They can check us out and see what we do. For the next couple of days if they can go houstondynamo.com/brigade and continue to donate tickets. It's a big deal to us and the fans have been amazing and we appreciate all of the support. And of course if anyone wants to run a 5k with myself, Brad unfortunately will be there on Saturday, July 5, they can go sign up at Texas Drive. All proceeds go to Banded Brigade Outdoors. It'll be pretty fun.