The 2017 Bonita Brew Fest is just around the corner, and this year the beer festival is a benefit for the Salt Warriors. Founded with a passion for fitness and helping the local community, Salt Warriors are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization on a mission to help local charities, families and organizations in need. Todd Richards is a Salt Warrior, and he is all hands on deck supporting this beer festival. In an effort to learn more about the Salt Warriors, and their role in the Bonita Brew Fest, I asked Todd for an interview. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Todd Richards.
Tell me more about Salt Warriors.
Salt Warriors is a non-profit organization started by 3 friends that saw the need for help in the Southwest Florida community and the opportunity to do something unique with our connections. We saw 5ks, golf tournaments, and galas as the norm for fundraisers and wanted to be more unique. Salt Warriors began by partnering with 5 other local charities that we wanted to support by creating unique events like the Warrior Mile (a one mile fun run on the beach at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park), Adventures For Autism (a scavenger hunt with clues and locations and prizes in downtown Naples), Kaikoa’s Beach Bash (a beach party to raise money for children’s cancer), Lily’s Leisure Stroll (a Down syndrome buddy walk at Lakes Regional Park in Ft. Myers) and BBQ & Brews which came to us from a friend that had friends with a young child with cancer. Over the past 2 years we have raised over $17,000 and all of it has gone to local families and charities in Southwest Florida.
Where did the name come from?
The name came from my wife. We were all having dinner trying to come up with a unique, catchy name that had to do with the beach and outdoors in Southwest Florida and of course fighters for those that need someone to fight for them. And thus, Salt Warriors was born.
Salt Warriors is involved with the Bonita Brew Fest. Tell me more about that partnership and how working with a local beer festival makes sense for your mission.
One of our first supporters were Brian and Kate Hahn of Momentum Brewhouse. They have been critical to our success and push our mission whenever possible. When the opportunity came up to collaborate with BrewFest Partners and host the Bonita Brew Fest we thought it would be an excellent way for us to introduce ourselves to the people in Southwest Florida that were not familiar with our work. Also, the money we gain from the beer festival will be used directly in the Bonita/Ft. Myers/Naples area for families in need.
You guys are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. How has social media helped spread your digital marketing efforts?
It’s really tough to measure. It’s great exposure for either free or reasonable pricing but really hard to measure effectiveness unless it’s something you are proficient at and do daily. Things are always changing and it’s hard to stay ahead of the game. We are always looking for someone to join the board and help with marketing and getting the word out on our organization, our mission, and our events.
It looks like you are involved in a lot of events… From Bonita Brew Fest to bbq and brews. How do you pick and choose what events to partner with?
We started with 5 local charities Caleb’s Crusade, The Kira Foundation, Llly’s Playhouse, Passion Foundation and Adonis Autism. We did the Warrior Mile to benefit all of them and then did a special event for each charity except the Passion Foundation to date. We also rely on the people of Southwest Florida to let us know how and where we can make the biggest impact locally. If you know of anyone, family, or charity that is in the area in need, let us know because we would love to help. Thus far our mission has been children in need, but we hope to continue to raise money and possibly move into the area of pets or anything else that can be helpful.
At the Bonita Brew Fest, what will your exposure be like? Will you be there hanging out or there promoting the Salt Warriors efforts?
I imagine the Salt Warriors will be working hard keeping the event running smoothly. Trash, water, paper towels, customer service, ticket sales, and much more will be our responsibility. We will have a table that will be manned to answer questions and hand out information but we will definitely have our hands full. If you know of anyone that would like to volunteer for the Brew Fest have them email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always looking for volunteers for our events.
Your staff is pretty young. Tell me more about the Salt Warriors staff members.
I am the eldest at 40 and my wife is 35. She does a lot of the social media and raffles but she also allows me to get a lot done by taking care of our children. I couldn’t do anything without her. We have two children; a 5 year old daughter and 2 year son. My son was born with a birth defect called spina bifida and essentially is the inspiration for our organization. Sean Sanders is a financial advisor with Fidelity Investments in Naples. He is responsible for our sponsorships and helps with volunteers as well as getting raffle prizes. Amie Sanders does all of the marketing materials, graphic design, creation of swag and postcards. She created our logo as well as the logos for all of our events. If you have ever seen anything Salt Warriors, you can bet Amie created it and she is fantastic at that. Stacy Clemmensen is our newest board member and she helps with getting and organizing volunteers. We have big plans for Stacy; she just doesn’t know it yet. We are a small but effective board. However, we are always looking for new board members that can contribute positively to our mission and organization.
Tell me more about the blog on your website. I’m a blogger, and always enjoy learning more about other bloggers of the world!
Amie would have to answer that for you. I’m old school and still haven’t figured out blogs. Amie, besides the marketing and graphic design, built our website and has been the main contributor to the site and the blog.
Since the beginning, how much money have you raised? Also, how do you track that?
We have raised over $17,000 on 6 events and we have been able to give all of it to those that we have worked with in need. We have raised a little more through donations and a loan from my mom to get us started and to get some of the events going. We don’t keep any money from the events for ourselves. We rely on donations and the money raised from Brewfest for the start up money on the events.
People can make donations on your website. What is the smallest donation you can accept? What is the largest donation you’ve seen?
We have had people donate $5 all the way up to $1,000 donation to our GoFundMe account.
You have a shop on your website. What items can people buy and are you planning to add more items in the future?
We have pilsner glasses with our logo, can glasses with ours and Momentum’s logo, t-shirts, and koozies. We would like to add some things but we are more concerned about raising money and giving it to those in need rather than stocking our store and gaining donations for us.
What’s next for Salt Warriors?
We aren’t actually sure at this point. Of course, we are hoping that Brew Fest is an overwhelming success. Then, we all have to focus on our “real” jobs with season starting right after Brew Fest. We are always on the lookout for people that need a hand and we look forward to many more fun, exciting, unique events in the future.
In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Considering what you guys do, you are an artist in my book. Go.
We are very sincere that we want to help as many people as we can in our community but it is hard and stressful at times. Being a small board and taking on so many events can be a challenge. Sometimes it’s hard to know if we are really making an impact which can be difficult sometimes; but we will persevere because it’s the right thing to do and because we really want to see change. I would like to ask for help from the community and businesses. We are always in need of sponsorships, donations for raffles, volunteers, and opportunities to get to know some of the families that would like our help because in the end we are ALL Salt Warriors.