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Shiner brewery joins Boot Campaign to aid returning military, families

By Sonny Long
April 28, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.

Spoetzl Brewery employee Tim Finch wears a size 16 boot as he and fellow employees received combat boots from the Boot Campaign  in support of U.S. troops. Spoetzl Brewery purchased boots for all of its employees at the Shiner brewery.

THE BOOT CAMPAIGN

The Boot Campaign is a grassroots initiative started by five women from Texas known as the Boot Girls. Since the summer of 2009, the campaign has exploded into a national effort

Three of the Boot Girls, Leigh Ann Ranslem, Heather Sholl and Mariae Bui were at the brewery in Shiner on Wednesday.

Proceeds from boot sales are donated to partner charities, who assist returning veterans dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and varying degrees of physical injuries. The campaign motto is "When They Come Back, We Give Back."

To learn more go to www.bootcampaign.com.

SHINER - Jeanette Boedeker's finger traced the track of her tears from the lower corner of her left eye down her cheek to the jawline.

"About like that," she said, lower lip trembling as she fought off more tears. "But it's for a good cause."

The movement illustrated her reaction when she laced on a pair of military-style combat boots as part of the Spoetzl Brewery's participation in the Boot Campaign, a fundraising effort to help returning military and their families.

Boedeker, known as "Red Bird," has one son in the Army Reserves, one who previously served, and one, Kody Boedeker, who is currently on active duty in the Army, and did a tour of Iraq last year.

"It's great thing for the brewery to help out with the troops," said Boedeker, 54, who has worked at the brewery for almost 15 years.

FRIENDSHIP CONNECTION

The brewery got involved in the campaign through Forrest Daigle, a regional sales manager from Houston, who went to college with former Navy SEAL and author Marcus Luttrell.

Luttrell wrote "Lone Survivor," about the June 2005 battle in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of 19 special forces troops. Luttrell survived the battle.

Luttrell later founded the Lone Survivor Foundation to assist soldiers coming home from war and their families. At the center of the foundation is the Lone Survivor Ranch that will provide holistic care to returning servicemen.

Daigle and Luttrell attended Sam Houston State University and worked together, along with Marcus' brother Morgan Luttrell, at the Jolly Fox bar. Marcus has retired from the military while Morgan is currently a SEAL.

"I put two and two together and realized that being a Texas company and his foundation being Texas-based, we could work together to help Morgan's foundation," Daigle said.

Lone Survivor Foundation is one of the charities that benefits from the Boot Campaign, started in the summer of 2009 at a Texas music concert when musicians swapped their cowboy boots for combat boots.

BEER AND BOOTS

Daigle's supervisor Paul Paynter, who works in the Gambrinus Company's San Antonio headquarters, welcomed the idea of the Boot Campaign with open arms.

"It's a great campaign and works well with our support of Texas military and Texas music," he said.

Daigle said the company purchased 89 pairs of boots and made a total donation of $27,000 to the Boot Campaign.

Local brewmaster Jimmy Mauric was excited about taking part.

"I can't believe we're going to be a part of this, putting all our employees in boots," he said as he laced on his own pair.

Daigle said the partnership also extends to the Lone Survivor Foundation's other fundraising efforts.

"When they hold a concert, Shiner beer will be the beer there," he said.

EMPLOYEE APPRECIATION

Boedeker isn't the only Gambrinus and Spoetzl Brewery employee who has an appreciation for the Boot Campaign.

Gabe McAfee, a 2010 Shiner High School graduate, also sported the boots Wednesday during his duties as packaging operator.

McAfee, 19, leaves in September for Army basic training in Missouri.

"I thought about going to college," he said. "But I joined because it was the right thing to do. I can serve my country and go to college after."

McAfee, who will be a combat engineer in the Army, said the Boot Campaign means a lot to him.

"It shows the brewery is supporting the military and shows the guys over there that we respect what they are doing to benefit us over here," he said.

Daigle said the partnership is about giving back to those who serve and their families.

"It gives me chills to give back to those who give so much," he said. "If you are proud to be an American, proud to be a Texan, you support our military. We are fortunate to be a part of it."

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