Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008 "Sweethearts for Soldiers" Calendar

On Veterans Day weekend, a group of former NFL cheerleaders representing teams from across the country joined forces in Arizona to shoot the second annual "Sweethearts for Soldiers" calendar to support troops deployed overseas. Just in time for the New Year, the calendar was officially released through its website NFL cheerleaders conceived the idea while conducting a United Services Organization (USO) tour in the Middle East. Bari Yonkers, then a cheerleader for the Arizona Cardinals, discussed the idea of giving back to the troops with some of her fellow teammates. "We were just so humbled when we visited the troops that we wanted to come up with something to bring some cheer to their lives," said Yonkers. "All NFL cheerleaders shoot a swimsuit calendar; why not make a military themed one with proceeds benefiting them?"When Yonkers returned to the states, she teamed up with Benjamin Moline, founder and chairperson of Soldiers-R-U.S. The inaugural calendar, which was financed through sponsorships from Arizona-based businesses and individuals, raised funds for 595 Arizona National Guardsmen deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The funds for the 2008 calendar will go toward sending care packages and calendars overseas to raise the morale of the troops. The theme of the 2008 calendar, WWII pin-up girls, is a classic concept that expresses universal appreciation for the sacrifices of all deployed service members. The calendar has 13 attractive months of pin-up themed shots.The models, (all former NFL cheerleaders) for this year's calendar all have a special reason for donating their time and efforts - they all have a personal connection to the military. Not only have most of them been on multiple USO tours overseas, Tonya was married to Cory Helman, a Navy search and rescue (SAR) swimmer who lost his life in January when his helicopter went down during exercises off San Clemente Island, Calif. She is participating in honor of his memory. Kimberly's fiance is a Navy Seal who is in Iraq right now. Brooke and Andrea are sisters who lost their dad when they were kids. Their father was a U2 pilot for a base on the East Coast. Kalani's sister serves in the military and has been deployed to Iraq and finally, Jessica currently serves in the Air Force as a Reservist.Moline, a former soldier himself, hopes to build on the popularity of the 2007 calendar to create more opportunities to interact with the troops. "We already went on a handshake tour to Ft. Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. We'd like to visit our brave men and women overseas and personally deliver these calendars sometime this year in a USO or AFE sponsored tour."The website,, is also designed so that everyone can support our troops through the online purchase of the calendar. On the website, you can learn more about the personal involvement each girl has had with the military and why this project means so much to them.

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