“Synchronicity” is an important term in Maj. Dan Rooney’s life. A fighter pilot with three tours of duty in Iraq and a golf pro who owns a Robert Trent Jones-designed course, Rooney believes everything happens for a reason.
And in his life, everything that’s happened to now has simply led to a means for him to help others.
Rooney is the founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides scholarships and assistance to the families of military veterans killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the keynote speaker at the National Watermelon Association’s 100th Birthday Celebration in Savannah.
“I use the term synchronicity when chance and purpose come together in our lives,” Rooney said. “Inspiration can come from anywhere, every experience is placed in your path for reason. Recognizing those moments is part of the equation, but if you don’t do anything with the inspiration, those experiences are pointless. I use the word ëGodspeed’ to end all my emails — it’s the only word that combines purpose and motion. Combining those two things can really turn your life into something with purpose.”
Rooney grew up on a golf course run by his father in Oklahoma. It was an idyllic existence and one that would first clash, then synchronize with his adult life — but there’s no way Rooney could have known that at age 12 when he decided to become a fighter pilot.
For his work with Folds of Honor Foundation, Rooney has received the White House’s Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Air National Guard’s Distinguished Service Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and The PGA of America’s Inaugural Patriot Award, among many others.
He also has a plus four handicap on the golf course. Rooney is now majority owner of the historic Grand Haven (MI) Golf Club and majority owner of The Patriot, a Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed course near Tulsa, OK.
“During my second tour of duty in Iraq, I saw a lot of really bad things. I saw people give their lives, be physically maimed, and I felt this calling — a literal calling from God — to do something for the family members,” Rooney said.
Six months later, he was flying home to the United States with the Bucklin brothers, twins who had fought in Iraq. Brad Bucklin was bringing home his brother Brock, who had been killed in action.
“That’s when I knew, that moment of synchronicity that brought me together with the Bucklins wasn’t something I could ignore,” Rooney said. “I wasn’t very smart and I didn’t have much money but I had a unique platform in the world of golf.”
Folds of Honor began with a golf tournament that raised $8,000, but has since grown into a major fundraising foundation.
“I feel every day that God has planted his hand firmly on me. The Folds of Honor is a massive calling in my life,” Rooney said. “The incredible irony I learned is that when you reach out to help someone, you’re actually the one being helped. I have some powerful stories to tell. And I promise, those of us who come together in Savannah will be there for a reason — synchronicity — and lives will be changed. This is something that will have an impact on each of us for the rest of our lives.”