Readers may remember our story last summer about Edmonds-Woodway High School defensive linebacker Moses “Mojo” Martin and his innovative plan to turn his football accomplishments into much-needed support for the Heroes’ Café program for local veterans.
The idea — hatched by Mojo and his dad Earl Martin — was to allow people to pledge a certain amount per tackle or quarterback sack, with every cent going to the Heroes’ Café. The idea went into action at the start of the fall football season with a Team Mojo Facebook page to track his on-field accomplishments, and a GoFundMe page to collect donations.
“I’m eager to get out there this season and ring up a good string of tackles and quarterback sacks,” Mojo said at the time. “Heck, if just one person pledges a dollar for each and I complete a hundred by season end, that’s a hundred bucks for the Heroes’ Café. Pretty cool!”
Talk about an understatement: When the season ended, Mojo’s effort had raised not $100, not $1,000, but more than $10,000.
In a special ceremony at the Jan. 24 Heroes’ Café meeting in Lynnwood, Mojo and his dad Earl presented a ceremonial check for $9,999.99 to support the Heroes’ Café’s ongoing mission to provide a place for veterans to talk with other veterans about their military experience and the common challenges they face as they re-enter civilian life.
“We actually raised and donated $10,046,” explained Earl. “But we wanted to have fun with $9999.99 thing since 9 is Mojo’s jersey number.”
Despite the name, Heroes’ Café is not exactly a coffee shop. On the last Tuesday of each month, dozens of military veterans gather at Heroes’ Café, held at New Life Church, 6519 188th St. S.W., Lynnwood. Doors open at 9 a.m., coffee and pastries are free; lunch is served at 11 a.m. and is also free. The veterans can get coffee and food, but even more important, they get camaraderie.
According to Heroes’ Café Director Gary Walderman, veterans frequently have a difficult time finding people to talk with about their experiences, people who really understand. Because of this, many veterans suppress these experiences and end up feeling isolated. Heroes’ Café provides a place to talk with others who’ve walked the same path in the same boots. They understand because they’ve been there.
Military service is a tradition that runs deep in Mojo’s family. His grandfather, who served in the Coast Guard for 15 years, died in 2021 but his great-grandfather Bill Jones, a World War II vet, was on hand to witness the check presentation.
“When we came up with this idea we’d never heard of anyone dedicating their high school football season to a cause through performance pledges,” explained Earl. “But we’re already hearing some other players talking about following Mojo’s lead next year. For us it’s a great way to support a good cause and bring extra depth, value, and richness to the entertaining fun of playing sports. We hope it becomes a new trend.”
— By Larry Vogel