This past weekend, I had the honor of representing the PepsiCo Dream Machine at Syracuse University’s ‘Courage Day,’ in which we saluted and thanked our veterans and military members for their incredible service to our country. During halftime at the Syracuse vs. Louisville football game, I presented an inaugural half million dollar donation on behalf of PepsiCo’s Dream Machine recycling initiative to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), a national program that offers career training and education to post-9/11 disabled veterans so that they can make the most American of dreams come true – start and own their own businesses.
It was really very humbling to be a part of this celebration. As I stood at the 50-yard line, in a sea of orange, with recent EBV graduates, Jesse Canella, Daliana Rivera, Henry Rivera and Terry Simms, the power of the EBV program and importance of PepsiCo’s donation became clear, and personal. I heard, firsthand, how the program has enabled Daliana to write her own children’s book and given Jesse the tools he needed to found HonorVet, an interactive online community to support the health and well-being of veterans. But, overarching all of the stories was the genuine appreciation and thanks that each of these individuals have for supporters, like PepsiCo, for helping put their dreams within reach.
I often talk about how the Dream Machine program is a real example of how PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose mission is coming to life, and how we’re delivering on our promise to find innovative, sustainable solutions to help protect the environment. But listening to these veterans, and hearing the life-changing impact that the EBV program has had on their lives, and the lives of their families, makes the impact of that promise so much more meaningful to me.
This Veterans Day, take a minute to thank the men and women who have served so bravely and selflessly in our armed forces. And, please, do your part to support the Dream Machine program – recycle your bottles and cans in a Dream Machine kiosk or bin if there is one in your area; make a Bottle Promise using the Dream Machine’s new Facebook application; or spread the word among your friends and family about the program, because the more that people recycle in a Dream Machine, the more funding that PepsiCo can give to EBV so that many more of our veterans can benefit from the extraordinary program.