Ellis, a construction project manager for Smith’s Food & Drug and a Major in the United State Air Force, will join other Kroger Heroes on the track at the Daytona 500 in Florida on Sunday, February 26 to present a $1.5 million check to representatives of the USO during the pre-race ceremonies.
The USO is an organization providing morale-boosting programs and services to enhance the quality of life for troops and their families around the world.
Ellis, who will also be featured on in-store advertising displays in Smith’s, was motivated to support Kroger’s honoring our Heroes project because of his admiration for the work of the USO. “I have seen firsthand the incredible support the USO provides to deployed service members worldwide and their families and it truly makes a difference,” said Mark Ellis.
Smith’s also donated two tickets to the Daytona Race weekend events to Hill Air Force Base to award to a lucky active HAFB airman and guest to attend the event in appreciation of their presence in northern Utah.
The Kroger Co. will have major presence during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, as the primary sponsor of #47 Kroger/USO NASCAR Sprint Cup car. In addition, Kroger associates from across the country, who are active duty or reservist members of our armed forces, will be honored by having their names displayed on the hood of the car.
Last year, the Kroger family of stores expanded its partnership with the USO through Honoring Our Heroes, a yearlong campaign to support members of the armed forces and their families. With the help of customers, associates and key partners, the program generated $1.5 million to assist the USO’s programs to support troops and families. Customers of Smith’s donated nearly $65,000 of the total from customers’ dropping change in to the coin boxes found at check stands in Smith’s seven states of operation and through a corporate gift.
Mark Ellis’s history in the United States Air Force began in 1995, when Mark was appointed to the United State Air Force Academy. Following graduation, he served in the military intelligence career field with numerous assignments and deployments supporting US and joint military operations throughout the world.
In September 2007, Mark separated from the active duty Air Force as a Captain and continued his military service in through reserve duty as an Academy Liaison Officer, working with aspiring high school youth seeking congressional nomination and appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Mark is also actively working to complete the next level of his professional military education and upon completion will earn his second Master’s degree in Military Operational Art and Science. Mark met his wife Kari while at the Air Force Academy and she is also an officer in the Air Force Reserves.