The mission and Story Behind Oakley’s Infinite Hero Foundation
Behind every veteran who honorably serves is a story of sacrifice. They sacrifice time away from the people they love. They miss birthdays and first days of school and weddings and even funerals. They sacrifice their own peace to step into harm’s way. They lose people they love in combat, and they sustain injuries that leave permanent physical disabilities. They carry the emotional weight of those experiences home with them as they work to heal or restart relationships with families who have been left to move through life at home.
Whether we realize it or not, there is a debt we bear as civilians. It is a duty to live up to that service- to avail ourselves of the opportunities we have and strive to lead ourselves and others to our full potential.
We also owe it to all military veterans who have honorably served, to ensure they now have the same opportunities which they have given so much of themselves defending. That’s where companies like Oakley and people like Erick Poston step in.
Erick Poston is the Director of Oakley’s Military/Government program.
He’s also the co-founder of the Infinite Hero Foundation, a nonprofit built from within Oakley and focused on veteran support. Erick came to Oakley as a professional motorcycle racer. Oakley sponsored him, and a lifelong partnership was made.
When Erick retired from professional racing, it was a natural fit for him to slide into Oakley’s world of elite sports performance equipment and lifestyle accessories. He started his Oakley career in the motor sports division before being asked to help with a new initiative. Specifically, Erick was asked to spearhead Oakley’s division designed to create top notch gear to the military, law enforcement, first responder and other government communities. Erick’ father and grandfather served in the military. For him, this was a way to bring his own energy to that community.
Over two decades later, Erick and the Oakley corporation have built a robust network of those who serve and those who support the ones who serve. They are so connected to the military community in particular that the loss of a large Special Operations Team in a helicopter crash was deeply felt. Erick remembers walking into work that day. Colin Baden was the CEO and he, too, was struggling with the enormity of that loss. “Erick,” said Colin, “We need to talk to General Petraeus.”
The feeling of helplessness was not going to be permitted to go unanswered. There was nothing to be done to help the men they’d lost, but those men had families that would need support. And there were others still serving that would continue to sacrifice so much for this country. Colin and Erick knew they were in the right company, with the right people, to step forward and support the military community. The question was – How?
“Let’s do what we’ve always done with Oakley,” they said. “Let’s look for innovative solutions.”
The two men knew they had the built-in network of like minded people to get behind them. All it would take was some work, and they could make a significant impact for the military community beyond what Oakley was doing as a company.
It did not take long to discover over 45,000 organizations already existed to support service members. “That’s a lot of people doing great stuff,” Erick says. “How do we help them do a better job?” Rather than recreate an existing resource, a decision was made to create a nonprofit that would exist to support other, effective, mission-oriented nonprofits continue and expand upon their great work.
That’s when The Infinite Hero Foundation was born.
The Infinite Hero Foundation exists to connect our military, veterans and military family members with innovative and effective treatment programs for service related injuries. It has done this magnificently by donating over 4.4 million dollars to nonprofits that use those funds to strengthen their existing programs.
Project Sanctuary is an example of that impact. Aimed at healing the military family as a unit, Project Sanctuary offers whole family retreats and ongoing resources that provide support as families reintegrate after deployments. Suicide prevention is especially important to Project Sanctuary after one of its participants was lost to suicide. With a $100,000 grant from the Infinite Hero Foundation, Project Sanctuary established a peer mentorship program.
In addition to suicide prevention and family support, the Infinite Hero Foundation focuses on supporting organizations that offer resources in brain health, leadership development, and physical rehabilitation.
Infinite Hero Foundation has continued to build its relationships and its reach. Funds are raised through donations and largely through charitable events like Tanks for Troops, hosted by famous freestyle motocross competitor and motorcycle racer Carey Hart, who is among the Infinite Hero Foundation’s strongest supporters.
Fundraising in normal times is always a challenge, says Erick. Fundraising during COVID times is far harder. Nonprofits everywhere are feeling the hit as businesses and individuals enter financial triage modes, cutting off all cash flow that does not directly sustain themselves in the midst of one of the biggest economic crises this country has ever experienced.
Many organizations will fold entirely, says Erick. But for Oakley and himself, that’s not an option. When he needs inspiration to push through a bad day or a discouraging moment, he needs look no further than the community he serves.
“There’s a difference between a bad day for us, and a bad day in the military,” he says. He still feels the loss of those Special Operators and he still sees the smiles his team puts on faces of grieving families being welcomed into an event. He knows more uncertain times lie ahead but he’s committed to carrying on the innovative and patriotic spirit of Oakley to ensure the Infinite Hero Foundation continues its mission.
“You just have faith that you’re going to make a difference and do the best you can.”
This country is packed with opportunities and incredible people from all walks of life. Certainly, stepping forward to serve in the military, law enforcement, of first responder capacity is among the most clearly defined levels of selflessness and service.
But we all have roles to play in order to keep this big beautiful country moving and to heal it from its current wounds. Organizations like the Infinite Hero Foundation are critical to the work of others, that impact tens of thousands of people who impact not just our country but the entire world.