Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Brigid O’Donoghue grew up in a large family of Irish descent. As the oldest daughter in a family with 9 kids, responsibility came knocking at the door early in life for her. With limited financial resources, attending the area’s best private educational facilities required her to get after school and weekend jobs. Her younger brother is physically and mentally challenged, and in many respects was a deep inspiration in her formative years (read the Prologue below). From that point on, there has always been a calling in her heart to reach out to others who are less fortunate and need her help. Unfortunately, having her own personal health challenges arose to throw a curve ball at her life plans. After numerous bouts in and out of the hospital, including major surgery to remove scar tissue from a high fever, Brigid was ready to pick up her life where it had left off years ago.
The entrepreneur in her led her to begin her own business selling semi loads of ground bark to landscapers around the Midwest. In addition, she blazed new trails, by trucking bagged cottonseed up from the cotton gin producer to feed mills up north. During that time, she raised two wonderful children, through the constant abuse and lack of support in her relationship. Her daughter Lindsey is an RN nurse (like her grandmother) and lives in Milwaukee. Her son Kenny is a journeyman and works in refrigeration in San Antonio. They are dear to her heart and provide inspiration in her life and work.
In 1998, Brigid put her feed mill and trucking knowledge to work and started a new specialized company called Bio-Tec Research Inc, which formulates and markets North America’s highest quality deer and elk products. In addition, she forged a limited edition fashion line called “Charnel” that features unique, tailored outdoor wear.
The seeds were sown for the birth of USSA when a deer food customer asked Brigid if she knew of any critically ill hunter who would be interested in a free deer hunt at his ranch. Brigid contacted a Texas man with cancer who flew into harvest a nice buck and from that point on USSA’s wheels were set in motion. By helping him realize his dream and spending time with this man, Brigid was truly inspired and she knew in her heart that she could pass happiness on to others who were dealing with life-threatening illnesses. She went on with a vision to develop the all-volunteer United Special Sportsman Alliance in fall of 2000.
Brigid observed that the inspiration passed on in her work through this charity creates special moments that make even the most difficult of lives challenges so meaningful. There is never a time that she does not look back and realize how fortunate she is to have overcome so many personal challenges, and that personal healing keeps her striving to do all she can to bring joy and hope into the hearts of others. There is a special place in her heart for those kids, adults, and vet and their families that she gets to share time with, and they are always a special addition to her own family.
Brigid is continuously motivated by the incredible love and life-long connections created by the sharing between so many special people within the charity. The time shared with these wonderful kids, injured soldiers/veterans, and their families leaves her with the understanding that neither she nor USSA recipients are ever truly alone!
Brigid said, “The greatest impact of this charity is helping provide the inspiration for others to get involved. We pass on our vision to see beyond the pain, disability, and hardships of serious illnesses. We know we all will endure loss, but the sharing in our work has created a mechanism of hope and healing for the children, the families and for those who help by volunteering their time and resources for this important cause”. She goes on to add, “I have been greatly inspired, yet humbled by the positive national impact this vision has created.”
Brigid works with television, radio, printed media, and Internet media across the country; the response from those who get involved is overwhelming. She wants to inspire others to become optimistically intertwined in the lives of others and make a real difference. It thus far has been successful beyond the charity’s expectations, with thousands of people experiencing a unique way to share hope and create new friendships.
Brigid plans to continue working with a strong Board of Directors, Major Operating Officers, Advisory Council, and Youth Outdoor Leaders, to build a charity of caring people all with the same mission to provide joy and hope in the lives of needy children and injured veterans/soldiers. Brigid said, “I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to operate God’s charity.”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Composed by Brigid around the age of 12)