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Microsoft and USO Announce Microsoft Above and Beyond Award Winners


Microsoft Corp., in collaboration with the United Service Organizations (USO), is proud to announce the winners of the Microsoft Above and Beyond Awards. The awards recognize the contributions of citizens across the country who brighten the lives of U.S. troops throughout the world.

“These winners are remarkable examples of how everyday people can do extraordinary things,” said Curt Kolcun, vice president of Microsoft Federal. “Their actions showcase the best of American citizenship, selflessness and support for our service members and their families. They are true testaments of how to salute our troops.”

Chosen through a public online vote, the following winners will be honored for their service in these categories:

Effort Award: Patti Patton-Bader, Pasadena, Calif. Soon after Patton-Bader began sending care packages to her son in Iraq, she started a group of volunteers to “adopt” soldiers. Since then, the group’s 100,000 members have sent tens of thousands of care packages and hundreds of thousands of letters to make sure no soldier is forgotten while serving. Its motto: “May no soldier go unloved.”

Medical Attention Award: Walter Fricke, St. Louis Park, Minn. Fricke, a helicopter pilot wounded in the Vietnam War, knows firsthand that family can be the key to a soldier’s recovery. One year ago, he founded the Veterans Airlift Command, volunteering not only his own aircraft and fuel but creating a national network of more than 500 volunteer aircraft owners and pilots who have joined in the effort to reunite wounded service members with families. The group has already flown more than 180,000 miles to help bring wounded troops back to their loved ones.

USO Promotion and Success Award: Paulette Nelson, Savannah, Ga. Before her son’s best friend’s father was deployed to Iraq, Nelson didn’t even know what deployment meant. But after noticing the tearful goodbyes, she decided she wanted to help make a difference. Now she staffs the Savannah airport’s USO station, and from Hunter Army Airfield she makes sure every soldier gets a warm welcome and a warm send-off, even lending her cell phone so they can make that one last phone call home.

Youth Leadership Award: Brittany and Robbie Bergquist, Norwell, Mass. Just 13 and 12 years old, these siblings heard about a soldier who had run up an $8,000 phone bill calling home. With two cousins deployed overseas, Brittany and Robbie know how important phone calls can be, so they committed themselves to helping soldiers call home. To date they have raised nearly $1 million and donated over 450,000 phone cards, equaling 2.5 million minutes of talk time.

Everyday Difference Award: Todd Schmidt, Burke, Va. While on patrol in Afghanistan, Maj. Schmidt came up with an idea to provide school supplies for local kids. Thanks to him, donors and volunteers have sent hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of textbooks, school supplies and secondhand clothes to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Under Schmidt’s leadership, Operation Dreamseed has even helped build a school outside Kandahar City by raising more than $80,000 for the cause.

After announcing the awards in mid-September, Microsoft and the USO received hundreds of nominations, narrowed it down to finalists in each of the five categories, and facilitated a public online vote to choose the winners.

The awards will be presented on Veterans Day (observed), Nov. 12, at a ceremony in New York City’s Rainbow Room. After the ceremony, the winners will be invited to join U.S. service men and women at a special Microsoft-sponsored showing of the 75th annual celebration of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

“We knew we were on to something special when we first discussed with Microsoft how we could honor those who serve our troops,” said Elaine Rogers, president, of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. “Now, seeing how these winners embody the principles of service and community should inspire each of us towards greater contribution.”

Kolcun said, “All of our nominees, finalists and many others out there who support our troops every day should all be commended for their great work to support our services members and their families. We hope this handful of wonderful examples helps further everyone’s efforts and inspires others to get involved.”

Find more information about the Microsoft Above and Beyond Awards.

About the USO

For more than 66 years, the USO (United Service Organizations) has been providing morale, welfare and recreational services to U.S. military personnel and their families. The USO ( is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of the American people to support its programs and services.


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