High school football player turning tackles and sacks into support for veterans

Moses “Mojo” Martin pauses for a photo with his dad Earl Martin, who teamed up with his son to organize the Hero’s Café fundraiser. (Photos courtesy Earl Martin)

Edmonds-Woodway High School senior and defensive linebacker Moses “Mojo” Martin is combining his respect for war veterans and his passion for football into a creative fundraiser aimed at supporting the Hero’s Café program for local veterans.

The Heroes’ Cafe provides a place where veterans can share common experiences and open up and get things off their chests in a safe environment. But doing so, the cafe addresses the sense of isolation many veterans feel and ease their transition from active duty back to society.

“I really love our veterans,” explained Martin. “I learned about them growing up, and feel they are underappreciated and underloved for what they do. Sadly, many of our hero veterans are not thriving and are struggling with homelessness, hunger, mental health, suicide risks, and basic living needs. So I contacted Snohomish County to ask how I could help.”

That’s where he learned about the Hero’s Café, and after a bit of thought and discussion with his dad, came up with a plan to link his performance on the field to raising funds to support this effort.

“Dad and I came up with the idea to allow people to pledge a certain amount per tackle or sack, with every cent going to the Hero’s Café,” he explained. “I’m eager to get out there this season and ring up a good string of tackles and quarterback sacks, and this will give me even more motivation. 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 Hero’s Café. Pretty cool!”

Want to join in?  Here’s how it works:

Mojo Martin is looking forward to a high-energy season.

First, go to the TEAM MOJO Facebook page and click the “Join” button. Once you’re in, simply add a post saying you’ll support Mojo’s Hero’s Café fundraiser at whatever monetary or performance level is comfortable for you – a dollar per tackle, $10 for a sack, etc. Then, keep returning to the page after each game, where you’ll see the latest stats for Mojo’s on-field accomplishments. Next, visit Mojo’s GoFundMe page to complete your donation.

“We’re doing this completely on the honor system,” explained Earl Martin, Mojo’s dad. “We won’t be hounding people or sending out any bills. We simply hope each person who pledges will keep track of Mojo’s performance stats and the level of their contribution, and after each game – or at the end of the full season if you prefer – visit the GoFundMe page to make their donation.  I should also note that in addition to performance-based donations, individual one-time donations are welcomed as well — we’ve already raised more than $700 in these alone,” he added.

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 Lynnwood’s 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.

“We’re really honored to have Mojo step up and offer to support Hero’s Café financially by his performance on the field,” said Hero’s Café Director Gary Walderman.

Moses “Mojo” Martin with veterans at a Heroes’ Cafe event in Lynnwood earlier this week.

According to 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. Hero’s 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.

“So let’s have some fun while supporting a great cause,” added Mojo. “I picked my random fundraising goal of $9,999 for the season because my football jersey number is 9. But honestly, it’s simply all about whatever we can do together to support our local veterans.” And, he adds, “100% of the proceeds will go to Hero’s Café veteran’s services.”

“Thank you for your meaningful support! Our veterans deserve it!”

Football season kicks off Friday, Sept. 2 when Edmonds-Woodway meets Marysville-Pilchuck High School, so there’s not a moment to lose signing up to support Mojo.

— By Larry Vogel

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