Students whirl for veterans 

by Belle Johnson 

Students danced the night away at Freshman Forum’s Whirl for WarHawgs Dance Marathon. 

All proceeds raised went to the WarHawgs, a nonprofit organization based out of Dothan, Alabama, which helps veterans suffering from mental disabilities such as PTSD. 

“They provide veterans, first responders, and other military members with free, all-inclusive, outdoor excursions such as hunting trips or fishing trips,” said Caleb Smith, a member of Freshman Forum who is majoring in business management from Gadsden, Alabama. “It’s a big charity dance event for fun.”

Students who attended were able to dance to music played by DJ Redd. They  also had the opportunity to buy a permanent bracelet by a company called Oaks on Park.

“A lot of my friends were coming, and I heard it was going to be a really fun event,” said Bradley Smith, a freshman data analytics major from Marietta, Georgia. “It’s a really great cause so I’m just happy to be out here supporting it.”

The CEO of WarHawgs, Toby Cochran, was able to attend the Dance Marathon. He said Smith contacted him after they met at the National Peanut Festival.

“He [Smith] actually came by the National Peanut Festival and said that he would like to do something for us,” said Cochran. “He happened to send me an email and boom. This is what happened.”

“I actually was with my aunt and my two cousins back at the National Peanut Festival in November, and they had a booth set up” said Smith. “So, I met the CEO, Toby Cochran, who’s also here tonight, and just loved their mission.”

After the initial meeting, the Campus Life Committee came up with the dance marathon.

“It’s really awesome just to give back to the community, both here and in Dothan,” said Freshman Forum President Madison Mcelrath, from Millbrook, Alabama.

WarHawgs’s goal is to reduce the number of veteran suicides committed each day. They provide opportunities such as an air rifle course and hog hunting as an outlet for veterans.  All the employees of WarHawgs are veterans, so those who participate in the programs are able to have someone to relate to if they need to talk.

“Veterans who go through PTSD and other types of traumatic experiences are more inclined to talk to somebody who knows what they’re going though, instead of just a random counselor,” said Smith. “More veterans die by suicide than they do on the battlefield. So, it’s a huge problem in our country that we don’t think about.

“We need to honor our nation’s military. Troy University’s a big supporter of our military and our veterans, so we wanted to give back that way with this cause.”

To learn more about the WarHawgs program, visit their website at

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