Written by Heidi Baumstark
Photos by Gracie Withers
Break out the cowboy boots and hats. That’s what hundreds did at Caliburn Farm in Marshall to benefit The Station Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and their families.
Organized by Eagle Café, the inaugural Memorial Day benefit concert was held to raise funds for The Station Foundation (TSF) which provides programs for SOF service members returning home from active duty or those transitioning into civilian life after high-risk missions for rescue and capture, performing reconnaissance deep inside hostile territory, and training regional allies.
The concert was headlined by country music superstar Randy Houser and also featured music by Makayla Lynn and Liz Davis Slezinger. Auction items were generously donated and awarded to winning bidders with all proceeds going to TSF. In addition to rousing musical performances and a live auction, the evening included a mix of speakers and inspiring video clips of TSF’s programs and activities.
The Local Connection
Eagle Café is the brainchild of two local horsewomen: Barbara “Barb” Roux of St. Bride’s Farm in Upperville and Gail Dady of Caliburn Farm. Plans are already in the works to make it an annual gathering. Next year’s event is scheduled for May 28, 2023, at St. Bride’s Farm.
Already an advocate of TSF, Roux wanted to do something to bring attention to its mission which Roux and her husband, Dave, have long supported. Dady, another avid supporter with a 20-year naval career, was motivated to host this year’s fundraiser. The generosity of donors covers the cost for the SOF community – warriors, spouses, children, and mentors – to attend TSF’s in-person and virtual programs. These programs have impacted over 1,000 families since 2012 and this number is still growing. The Eagle Café benefit concert is one big way to build on that momentum. “We wanted it to be an intimate crowd with a country theme,” Roux says. “And casual with cowboy boots and hats!”
Local vendors added to that country theme and casual atmosphere. Horse demonstrations were provided by Sprout Therapeutic Riding, a car show sponsored by Marshall-based Callaway Classics was on display, and other local collectors displayed American-made “muscle cars” from the 1960s and 1970s on the farm’s lawn. Food and drinks were donated by Mission BBQ, Lost Barrel Brewing, and Dog Tag Bakery.
How Did TSF Start?
TSF was founded in 2011 by Kevin Stacy who serves as executive director. As a decorated combat leader with 12 international deployments, he spent his career in direct support of the global pursuit of terrorists. While serving as a pilot in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Stacy and his wife, Shannon, felt the mounting pressures placed on families within this community. In 2012, he transitioned from the military to focus on life beyond the battlefield and realize the full potential of The Station Foundation.
“We met Kevin and Shannon ten years ago,” Dady says. “They’re genuine and humble. [They want] to help … because they’ve been there.”
After months of research, TSF presented its first program in October 2012, and in 2015, they secured a facility in Bozeman, Montanna, called Base Camp Jimmy. Stacy shares, “We made a choice to step out and do something. Being a part of this organization means continuing to serve with the same commitment and focus as I did in uniform. It’s showing up every day with purpose and drives me to [be] my very best.”
Stacy named the organization “The Station,” as a reference to his time at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. As a student there he would take the train on weekends to New York City’s Grand Central Station. “I remember being in the middle of this amazing cathedral-like hall,” he recalls. “I went to a kiosk for help, and the woman behind the counter pulled out a map and gave me [my transportation] options. This is where the true origin of the name hit me: We are all trying to figure out the right track, the right people to join us. Basically, [we are trying to connect] with those who understand. This has been the spirit of The Station since [its] inception. The Station is the ‘kiosk’ helping us to connect. It’s the greatest gift I can give to our SOF community.” TSF’s tagline – A crucial stop on the journey home – perfectly matches its mission.
Left: Classic car display courtesy of Callaway Classics in Marshall. Middle: Barb Roux and Gail Dady, co-chairs of the Eagle Café Event. Right: The event was held at Gail Dady’s sprawling Caliburn Farm.
Programs Offered by The Station
The Station’s core programs include three projects: The Homecoming Project, The Legacy Project, and The Interwoven Outreach Project. The Homecoming Project focuses on both active and retired SOF families. During a seven or ten-day bonding experience, the staff provides families with an excellent starting point to reset and rebuild, walking beside them as trusted guides. The Legacy Project is designed for Gold Star children (children of fallen warriors) and their mentors who are typically teammates of the fallen, so they can share memories about the child’s parent. The Interwoven Outreach Project extends to the SOF community across the nation. Through an online platform, content is shared daily, weekly, and monthly with alumni which helps everyone stay connected.
Comments from TSF Participants
Niko Temple is a participant in the TSF program. His wife, Jillian, remembers, “I was searching for something to help me and Niko.” She began receiving TSF’s e-newsletters and attended their Power of Friendship program which is one of the virtual courses designed to enhance family connectedness.
She forwarded an email to Niko encouraging him to contact them. Temple recalls, “There was an instant bond and trust. I knew Kevin and Shannon really cared.”
Kristy Willis went to Bozeman in January 2020 to participate in the spouse program and is currently going through a year-long training. Her husband is still on active duty stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. “The needs are very different being a spouse of a Specials Ops soldier and The Station really addresses those needs like none other,” she shares. “They helped me address the pent-up, stressful energy I was carrying watching my husband go to war for 20-plus years. It sounds cliché, but TSF is life changing. It’s hard to put into words, but a few come to mind: powerful, magical, effective. They are experts at what they do.”
Shannon Stacy remarks, “The spouses are behind the scenes, and they need support. We’ve been able to build a family community that they can lean on when they return home.”
Left: Tristyn Redd, Gold Star son. Middle: The barn was transformed into the Eagle Café. Right: Makayla Lynn, country music singer.
Back On Stage
Kevin Stacy made sure to emphasize that “This [concert] would not [have happened] without these two women [Barb and Gail]. They put together a community who made this event possible.”
At the end of the benefit, Dave Roux announced that $1.2 million was raised that evening. “We want to put fuel in the tank to commit to giving to The Station [because] no one exemplifies giving more than our Special Operations Forces,” he said. “Mark your calendars for next year: May 28, 2023. It will be bigger and better!” ML
For more information and donation opportunities, visit thestationfoundation.org.
This article first appeared in the July 2022 Issue.