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CARY, N.C. -- The sky is the limit for this year's Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops fundraising campaign.
The Salute Our Troops Flugtag Team has been tapped to test gravity's limits on a custom-made aviation machine in honor of U.S. military service members and their families at the first National Red Bull Flugtag Competition in Miami on Sept. 21. The event will be the world's wildest homemade, human-powered flying craft competition, according to Kangaroo Express' parent company The Pantry Inc.
Powering the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag is a flight "Kroo" consisting of five military veterans. Together, they will take a giant leap off a 28-foot-high flight deck into the water below in an attempt to break the American distance record of 207 feet.
The team, piloted by U.S. Army airborne pathfinder and Silver Star recipient Staff Sgt. Tommy Rieman, includes former U.S. Army counter intelligence officer Capt. Angela Amidon; retired member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott; former U.S. Army paratrooper Sgt. Andrew Ladner; and retired U.S. Army air component supervisor and drag racer Sgt. 1st Class Don O'Neal.
"While there's no official training program to operate a handmade, human-powered flying craft, we hope our collective experience in the military will put us ahead of the competition," Rieman said. "Our troops and their families make leaps of faith every day to protect our freedoms and this 28-foot leap will be just one more way Kangaroo Express is raising awareness to help Salute Our Troops."
The Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag is designed and crafted by the United States Veteran Corps (USVC), a North Carolina-based military support organization that participates in service projects and events in the military and civilian communities. The flugtag is a custom-made aircraft modeled after a World War II CG-4A Glider, most famously employed in the invasion of France on D-Day.
This year's third annual Salute Our Troops campaign is running through Labor Day. All summer long, Kangaroo Express is inviting store guests in its more than 1,550 Kangaroo Express convenience stores across 13 states to demonstrate united support for military personnel and their families.
Over the past two summers, the Salute Our Troops campaign has raised $5.67 million, breaking fundraising records for many beneficiary organizations, including two of the most accomplished grassroots campaigns the USO has been involved in during its more than 70-year history, according to the company.
Salute Our Troops celebrations, held throughout the southeastern United States, will feature a chance for guests to become a part of the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops Flugtag. At each stop, guests can share messages of thanks and appreciation for the U.S. Armed Forces that will later decorate the fabric of the craft.
Guests can also meet "Kroo" pilot Rieman and team member O'Neal, with his custom 2009 Mullis Salute Our Troops Dragster, at each of the stops. To see where the Salute Our Troops Tour has been and where it's headed next, visit www.KESalute.com.
Donations from the Salute Our Troops campaign support the USO, the Fisher House Foundation and eight state-based military support organizations.
The Pantry operates 1,567 convenience stores in 13 states under select banners, including its primary operating banner Kangaroo Express.