HomeBordentown Register NewsBordentown NewsWearing kilts for a cause to support military veterans

Wearing kilts for a cause to support military veterans

Although Bordentown’s annual Kilt Fest NJ is primarily a celebration of Scottish-Irish-Gaelic culture and traditions, it also serves a charitable cause.

This year’s festival teamed up with Mission 22, a program that helps raise awareness for the issue of military veteran suicide.

The festival drew a large crowd at Liberty Lake Park in Bordentown on Oct. 13 and 14.

Founded in 2013, Mission 22 is a non-profit organization that seeks to end military veteran suicide. The organization offers aid to veterans suffering physical and mental injuries from combat, while it also gives assistance to families of veterans as well.

Partnering up with the military program for a second year, Kilt Fest NJ organizer Chris Beyer, believes that although the focus is to bring people together for a Celtic Festival, it can be utilized to serve a higher purpose too.

“Through Kilt Fest NJ’s highland games, music, kid’s activities, kilt run, food and Celtic beer, we provide an experience that strengthens people’s connections to their heritage, which gives us all great satisfaction,” said Beyer. “That said, we believe that giving back to an important cause like Mission 22 is critical as it is directly impacting the lives of our veterans.”

Outside of organizing the annual festival, Beyer owns American Highlander Kilts and Accessories based in Ewing. Two former U.S. Marines are employed at his company, one of whom, Al Hancock, wears a kilt to work every day. With Hancock being a Mission 22 ambassador, an initiative sparked between him and Beyer to coincide the program with the annual festival.

“It’s good for Mission 22 to be here because it brings public awareness,” said Hancock. “There’s people out there who aren’t aware of what veterans go through – who think the only place for them to go for help is the [The Department of Veterans Affairs]. And a lot of veterans don’t even know about what services Mission 22 offers to them, so it’s great to get the public here and veterans as well to show what we can provide them.”

Alongside vendors selling Celtic crafts and food, Mission BBQ was also on hand for the event, a fast casual chain with approximately 80 locations in 16 states. The chain jumped in as a Kilt Fest NJ partner and served up platters of food out of a military tanker truck, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Mission 22.

The effort had regional ambassador for Mission 22, Steve Mathis, grateful for the support.

“85 percent of our proceeds on any event like this – anything we do, goes directly to our resource program for the veterans at no cost,” Mathis said. “Our job is to get the communities involved. Our vets need an outlet. They need to know that they’re not alone, and guys like Chris who come along with events like this for a veteran cause – you couldn’t ask for anything more.”
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