While many people are aware of the amazing support inside the Citrus Bowl, the work of the supporters throughout the city often goes unnoticed. I had the chance to talk with Brittney Breeden, chairperson of Ruckus Cares, about the unsung tales of supporters giving back to our beautiful city.
TML: Many people don’t know the impact the supporters groups have outside the stadium and in the community. Can you tell me a little bit about the mentality of the supporters and what makes them so eager to help the community?
Brittney Breeden: When you join a supporter group of Orlando City Soccer Club, the phrase "Forever Our City" rests on your shoulders, for real -- check the jerseys -- and we take this phrase seriously. Being that this is "Our City," it is our goal to build it up to be the best damn city it can be, just as we have helped build up the team with support. We also have a club that has set the precedent on community involvement and they truly lead by example.
TML: Many people don’t seem to know about the different things the supporters have done in the community, could you elaborate on some specific charities and events that you have participated in?
BB: One of my favorites was our volunteer day at The Mustard Seed, Central Florida’s largest furniture and clothing bank. They also have the only non-profit mattress recycling center in Florida, but the mattresses have to be broken apart first. So we went in there with box cutters, bolt cutters, crowbars and more to literally tear stuff up -- but this time it was for a good cause!
We also do a collection of sorts every home game -- everything from pet food to clothes-- and have helped collect items for New Image Youth Center, Judy’s Pet Rescue, Family Meals, Orange County Animal Services, Winnie Palmer Hospital, The Mustard Seed, and A Gift For Teaching. And coming up next will be for the USO and the Easter Seals. My favorite, however, was the school supply drive which brought in over 800 items in one tailgate and then grew to our affiliates, Ruckus of Brevard and the Treasure Coast Collective, topping off the total at over 1,000 items! It was outstanding! Members kept bringing bags upon bags of supplies even though it was raining. Their support has consistently blown me away time and time again.
Throughout the summer we were also given the opportunity to visit New Image Youth Center every week for a Career Day. We had 10 amazing Ruckus members step up to talk about what they do for a living -- everything from teaching and nursing to coordinating parades and programming light shows. It was a wonderful chance to bring to light career paths that they might not have considered before or ever known were an option.
The biggest fundraiser of course was our Ruckus Remembers, which benefited Dogs 4 Warriors and Tally Hall’s charity, Banded Brigade Outdoors. We had a silent auction, charity t-shirts, and even a fundraiser at Orlando Brewing, which consisted of door prizes, happy hour wristbands for donations, and even a 50/50 raffle. My favorite part was how involved Tally actually was throughout the whole thing. He even met us to take pictures in the charity shirt and donated so many autographed items! Our players are the best in the league by far and this was just another example of how dedicated they are to the community.
TML: Working with Tally Hall and his charity must have been really cool, how did the opportunity to work with him come up?
BB: It actually started before I took over as chair during our transition period. One of our Ruckus Cares committee members, who is too humble to let me name him, is a veteran and wanted to do something in conjunction with Memorial Day as well as OCSC Military Appreciation Day. He was an absolute champion of the cause. This man laid the foundation for Ruckus Remembers by reaching out to both charities, diligently creating a charity shirt design with our merchandiser, and even took care of contacting Tally Hall himself and arranging the photo shoot. I have found, time and time again, Orlando City players and staff members are often times more than happy to help out (when they can), all you have to do is ask.
TML: Are there any other events coming up soon and if so, how could non-supporters get involved?
BB: Absolutely! The best thing to do is like our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/RuckusTilWeDie. We typically post upcoming charity events up there. For the next home game, our chosen charity is the USO, which will be joining us at our tailgate with some amazing prizes and information on how to help support our active duty military.
On September 26, we will be celebrating Blood Cancer Awareness Month by hosting the 2nd Annual Hops For Hope fundraiser at Orlando Brewing from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be an auction, amazing pulled pork sandwiches, and happy hour wristbands for a $5 donation -- $3 if you have your Ruckus membership card.
The Ruckus Drumline and Ruckus members will be attending various local walks in the community so keep an eye out for them at the start/finish line as they do what they do best -- sing and jump in support of our city! There’s even more to come in October so keep an eye on their social media pages for a chance to get involved.