Meet the Soldiers Freedom Outdoors Team
Our Board of Directors is comprised of volunteers, whose goal is to empower our service members and veterans, through outdoor activities and fellowship.
Dan DiMarco - Chairman
Dan served his country in the US Army National Guard. An accident outside of the service, cut short his military career. Dan’s passion for serving never left him, and he searched for a mechanism to fulfill that desire. He found an outlet to continue to support our troops by creating Soldiers Freedom Outdoors, a non-profit organization, in 2011. Soldiers Freedom Outdoors provides horseback riding, horsemanship, fishing, hunting, kayaking, hiking and other outdoor adventures. Dan believes that nature provides a venue for our troops to relax, rejuvenate their minds and regain resilience.
Dan, the “outdoor guy,” has a background in horse training, was co-owner of a landscape company, and has worked for 19 years in the RV industry. Currently he is the owner of the Consignment Group, which focuses on the RV re-sale market . He has been riding horses, fishing and hunting his entire life.
Because of the participation and positive feedback, Dan envisions continued growth and establishing new Soldiers Freedom Outdoors chapters throughout the country.
Dan is excited about what the future holds for the organization and the number of lives that will be empowered.
Gail DiMarco - Board Member
Gail DiMarco joined the Freedom Outdoors Board of Directors in 2012.
Gail says, “the privilege of serving on the Board gives me the opportunity to give back to all of our military. As a daughter of a career military father I realize the sacrifice my Dad made while serving our country. I am constantly in awe of the courage and commitment our soldiers demonstrate at home and abroad. Giving back is something that every American should do.”
Mike Fletcher - Board Member
Mike is a retired Navy Chief. He served as a aviation electronic warfare operator in 1973-1993 and is a Gold Star family member, having lost his son in-law in Operation Red Wing.
Mike is a successful business man working for the past 23 years as a Farm Bureau insurance agent in Keystone Heights Florida. He is married to his lovely wife Ardi for 41 years and has three children and 10 grandchildren.
Ben Baxley - Co-Chairman
Ben was born in South Carolina, where he lived until entering the Marine Corps in 1992. Soldiers Freedom Outdoors provided him and his family a few opportunities while on active duty, and he now serves this great organization bringing over 20 years of military experience with him.
During his time in the Marines he had multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, while also serving extensively throughout the Middle East. He has extensive humanitarian experience as well.
Ben brings a lot of energy to our organization and possesses the unique ability to synergize our team in many ways. Having worked in the trenches and getting his hands dirty for many years, he understands the importance of mission accomplishment and hard work.
Ben had the opportunity to mentor and lead hundreds of young men throughout his career, and is very driven to continue that same support to veterans who have served this great country. He understands what it means to serve his country, and the sacrifice that our military members make every day, while protecting the freedoms we so dearly love as Americans.
Ben attended college at Central Texas College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ben works full time for a Fortune 250 company and contributes a vast majority of his free time to our organization. We are pleased to have Ben on our team.
Tracy Roane - Board Member
Hello, my name is Tracy Roane. I was born in Daytona, FL in 1967 and moved to Alachua County in 1972. I was raised on a farm, and now, having my own, I continue to realize my passion for nature and the great Outdoors. I have spent the majority of my life outdoors - hunting, fishing and camping - ever since I was old enough to hold a rod, bow or firearm. I have been married to my wonderful wife for 29 years, and have raised a terrific family. I have been in the telephony business for almost 25 years.
I am a great-grandson, grandson, son and father of former military soldiers. Observing their dedication and sacrifice over the years, I have developed a deep passion and respect for their service to our Country. The Soldiers Freedom Outdoors has provided me a unique vehicle to embrace both passions; the outdoors and serving our active-duty, retired and disabled military personnel in a tangible manner. Having been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, I have a better understanding of the handicaps that our military face when physical injury inhibits their ability to pursue their outdoor passions. I have designed and fabricated specialized adaptive hunting equipment for the handicapped that can help bring to, or bring back the shooting sports to those who thought their ability to hunt or shoot was lost forever. I believe that we all can adapt and overcome.
Charissa Fontan Westfall - Board Member
I am the surviving widow of Jacques Fontan, Chief Petty Officer and member of SEAL Team 10. He was KIA on June 28, 2005 in the rescue operation associated with the acclaimed story of Operation Red Wing.
I am always honest and tell everyone that day turned my life upside down. My dreams of being happy on earth, having a family with Jacques were crushed, left me without hope and a future. Through the help of family and friends and several foundations, today I say my life is a picture of restoration and hope.
One of my favorite things to tell people is that God blessed me twice in life with love, and I married Drew Westfall in 2008. We’ve been blessed with 3 children over the last 9 years, and though it keeps me busy, I love being a mom. It was because of Drew’s encouragement to share my story and be a support to other surviving spouses, that I became involved in key foundations that help surviving spouses and veterans. My involvement has included work with the Special Ops Survivor Foundation, being on the board the Lone Survivor Foundation, working with the Boot Campaign, and I am currently part of Team Never Quit, and now also a part of Soldiers Freedom Outdoors, all in which all have made a difference in my continued healing, and that of others.
I have been a mentor for the SFO by working with women who’ve lost their husbands while serving in the military. I have work closely with the military nonprofits to raise awareness for the surviving spouses/families our veterans and our countries veterans.
Jason Bucy - Board Member
Jason Bucy served from 1997 to 2004 in the Indiana Army National Guard and the United States Army. Prior to entering active duty he was a 13E, Cannon Fire Direction Control on M198 towed Howitzers. While on active duty he reclassified to 67T (15T) Blackhawk Helicopter
Repairer. With one tour at K-16 Song Nam Air Base in South Korea. As a proud member of A Co 5/101 he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. While deployed he received 2 Air Medals and 4 Army Commendation Medals. He was honorably discharged in August of 2004 and received his Airframe and Powerplant License to maintain aircraft.
In 2006 he went to work for the Department of State, Air Wing Division, in Colombia South
America on the Anti-Narcotics Task Force, Aerial Eradication Division. This division was tasked
with spraying the coca fields that supplied the base for manufacturing cocaine in an attempt to
slow or eradicate the production of cocaine, human trafficking, and the exchange of money that
supported local terrorist organizations.
In 2008 he was employed with Blackwater Aviation and Presidential Airways and was
subsequently deployed to Afghanistan. While in country Blackwater/Presidential Airways was
responsible for moving mail, medicine, ammunition, food and troops across the battlefield. He
opened multiple Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan where Blackwater was stationed. The
FOB’s opened were Sharana, Shindan, Stone, Bastion and Bagram. He was also stationed at
Kandahar while deployed to Afghanistan. In late 2012 Jason returned home for good.
In June 2017 he married his best friend, nurse, and home therapist Heidi. Before he met her he
was a single father still struggling with the “hidden wounds of war”. The flashbacks causing him
to scream at his door in the middle of the night or the triggers that caused anxiety were still a
common occurrence. Since he met Heidi in 2016 and Dan DiMarco shortly there after those
wounds have all but healed. Jason understands that having the right people like Soldiers
Freedom Outdoors and wonderful friends that are understanding will help control the anxiety of
everyday life. He is looking forward to giving back to our veterans and giving them opportunities
to move on from the battlefield and adjusting to everyday civilian life.
Heidi Bucy - Board Member
While not being a native of Florida, I have spent more than 25 years in Citrus County, FL and am the mother of four amazing children. I spent 15 years as a Medical Assistant and have a passion for people and helping them whenever possible. Even though I no longer work in the medical field, I continue to develop friendships with patients I cherish. I am now a receptionist at a Pest Control Company and love it. It is something different and I am able to not only dedicate myself to my job but to my family as well.
In 2016, I met Jason, the man of my dreams and married him in 2017. I always had admiration and respect for our Country and those who have put their lives on the line to protect our way of life. However, I never understood the feelings, thoughts and battles that these men and women endure during and after military life until I met Jason. The stories from not only him but his daughters as well gave me a better understanding of military life, sacrifice, nightmares and flash backs. I never personally had never had to deal with someone who had PTSD, but my love for Jason is unconditional and we cope with this affliction together.
I decided to introduce Jason to a very good friend of mine, Dan DiMarco. I have known Dan for more than 20 years and thought that between Dan and The Soldiers Freedom Outdoors this may be what he needs to help “Heal his Hidden Wounds of War,” and it did just that. Jason and I are dedicated to showing other Veterans and their families what SFO has done for our family.
My greatest accomplishments in life are my wonderful children and my marriage. With them, I am able to dedicate more time to SFO and its activities. I cherish the fact that our children are eager to help as volunteers and learn the effects that war has had on the soldiers and their families. I am particularly proud when they see a smile on a WWII Veteran when they thank them for their service. Volunteering will help them understand why SFO does what they do and continue the education to a new generation.
Bob Rose - Board Member
I was born in Detroit, MI. in 1962, where my father worked for the Chrysler Corp. and mother worked for the US Navy.
As a paperboy in Metro Detroit, I would get up at 4 AM, read the paper and deliver to over 100 customers. During that time, I enjoyed listening to the many radio stations Detroit and Canada offered, news mixed with music and that exposure fed my interest in sharing information and desire to be on the radio.
At age 15, we moved to Florida, where I graduated from Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda and met the love of my life, Rhonda. Rhonda’s dad was an Air Force pilot, Vietnam veteran and served for 20 years. I have the highest respect for him and my granddad, who served in the US Navy during WWII and spent the rest of his years working at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
Pursuing my love for information and news as a young paperboy, I am now enjoying a wonderful radio career, serving for the last 17 years as the morning show host of WSKY 97.3 FM radio Gainesville and surrounding area.
I have always admired the warrior mindset of our military and willingness to sacrifice for our nation. Now is my opportunity to give back and appreciate the hard-fought freedoms that we enjoy, serving on the board at Soldiers Freedom Outdoors. It is my pleasure to do my small part to help and heal our Warriors. I am grateful and feel blessed for the opportunity.