West Sound Electric electrifies start of 2009 hydroplane season with 'Cell Phones for Soldiers' kickoff BELFAIR, Wash. - Snow Sunday. Snow Monday. That just means it must be close to the 2009 hydroplane racing season for Belfair's Bud McKay and...
West Sound Electric electrifies start of 2009 hydroplane season with 'Cell Phones for Soldiers' kickoff
BELFAIR, Wash. - Snow Sunday. Snow Monday. That just means it must be close to the 2009 hydroplane racing season for Belfair's Bud McKay and the "GEICO of Lakewood Presents West Sound Electric" hydroplane.
To start off the 2009 racing season, McKay delivered the 105 cell phones the team collected in 2008 to Ron House, CEO of West Sound Electric in Bremerton, Monday. West Sound Electric is an official drop off location for unwanted cell phones for "Cell Phones for Soldiers." "Cell Phones for Soldiers" collects used and outdated cell phones and recycles them to earn prepaid calling cards donated to deployed military members and their families.
House became an official drop off location in October after his first year of sponsoring McKay's Namron Racing Team's hydroplane.
"I first learned about the 'Cell Phones for Soldiers' program through Bud since he's been working with the program for the last two years," House said, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Marines. "When I checked out the program, I was very impressed with the entire concept. I just wanted to do whatever I could to support our guys and gals in the military - they more than deserve it."
West Sound Electric is just one of 3,000 collection sites across the country for "Cell Phones for Soldiers." The overall goal is to collect 50,000 each month nationwide. Teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money, founded "Cell Phones for Soldiers." Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.
Through increased fundraising efforts, "Cell Phones for Soldiers" hopes to raise nearly $10 million in the next five years to fund new programs, such as providing videophones with prepaid service to allow soldiers abroad to see their families on a regular basis.
McKay's racing team, the three-time defending champion in the 8-Cylinder Lighter-Than- LIGHTS class of the Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association, collects cell phones at races and displays throughout the year. The first phone from the 2008 season came from McKay himself after flipping his boat at Firebird Raceway in Arizona at the season opening race - his cell phone was in his racing suit pocket and got wet when the cockpit filled with water.
And there is already a cell phone in the bin for the 2009 season. And like last year, the first phone is from McKay. It seems McKay forgot to remove his cell phone from his pockets before running a load of laundry as he left for West Sound Electric.
"I don't look at is as a wasted cell phone," McKay said, a retired Air Force Reservist. "That's now an hour's calling card for some deployed service member's family."
McKay plans to test the "GEICO of Lakewood Presents West Sound Electric" hydroplane April 14 at Lake Washington and then defend his win last year at Firebird Raceway April 25-26. Between the season opener and season finale in October, McKay hopes the team collects twice the cell phones as they did in 2008.
For more about the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" program, visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com. For more about the Namron Racing Team, visit www.namronracing.com.