Ala. Guardsmen won't soon forget lady who's making a difference - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Ala. Guardsmen won't soon forget lady who's making a difference

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Bette Sue Strasburger wanted to unlock her comfort zone and do something she's never done before, something memorable for Alabama National Guardsmen stationed in war zones overseas. 

"It just stuck with me," said Strasburger. 

What stuck with Strasburger was a soldier's smile on the 'Today' show, a soldier who just happened to be wearing an Alabama t-shirt, standing behind Today show co-anchor Matt Lauer while the co-host was doing live interviews in a dangerous part of the world. 

"Just a grin that didn't leave me. My husband and I thought 20 or 30 shirts," she said. 

Those 20 or 30 shirts turned out to be 1,400 Crimson Tide shirts shipped to guardsmen days before Alabama defeated Texas in the BCS title game 4 years ago. Now to make it happen Strasburger had to raise money to pay for the printing and the postage and did she ever! 

Strasburger ended up starting the Shirts For Troops organization. 

"I was able to raise $8,000 in 5 days," Strasburger said. 

Bette Sue Strasburger thought that would close the book on her project but she didn't count on a team from Alabama winning the title over the next 3 years. Auburn won the next year and the Crimson Tide won again..and again. More money raised, more shirts sent over and more perspective for Strasburger. 

"It isn't so much the shirts but the remembering part that's important to them," said Strasburger. 

If Bette Sue Strasburger had any doubts she did something big, all she has to do is read the letters from the front lines, a gentle smile confirms she did more than a good deed as she reads one letter out of hundreds.

Since both wars are winding down the number of shirts has dwindled from 1,400 the first year to about 700 last December. 

Strasburger credits her dad for giving her a sense of patriotic duty. 

"I grew up in a household where my father was all American, a sense of pride," she said. 

A sense of duty sealed with a close brush with death, a close call with an 18-wheeler on Interstate 85 in Montgomery a few years ago. Strasburger walked away unhurt and a prophetic proclamation from her son. 

"He said..'Mom.. God's got something planned for you and He's not ready for you yet,' she remembered. 

And Strasburger isn't ready to quit.  

If Alabama or Auburn can win it again this year, look for Bette Sue Strasburger to pack it in again, another shipment, another care package from home. 

If you're interested in helping Mrs. Strasburger you can email her at shirtsforalabamatroops@gmail.com

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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