Pictured (L-R) Kristen Pautienus, Jill Fornoles, David Bultema, Leah Bultema.

I recently met David Bultema, founder of the AaronStrong Foundation. I was so moved by his drive, enthusiasm, and mission that I wanted to learn more about him and share his story.

TABLET: Tell me a little about you and your family?

David: I am a school teacher at Lake Minneola High School. My wife, Leah, is also a teacher. We have four sons, Maddux, Nolan, Aaron (deceased), and Glavine. We are a big baseball family.

TABLET: Is there any significance in the naming of the Foundation?

 David:  The Foundation was named after our third son, Aaron, who died from Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder.

 TABLET: When was the AaronStrong Foundation formed?

David:  The AaronStrong Foundation became a non-profit in 2016; however, it began after the passing of our third son in 2013.

TABLET:  What is the mission of the Foundation?

David:  Adversity defeats people daily. By inspiring and empowering others to develop Growth, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity (GRIT), The AaronStrong Foundation provides individuals with the tools to confront and persevere through adversity to build inner strength.

TABLET:  Tell me about the organization’s involvement in the community?

David: We currently hold a “Grit Through It” series, 2-3 times a year, for middle and high school students. This class focuses on GRIT building strategies for daily lives, as well as goal setting strategies.

I also do motivational presentations to students and faculty at schools, church groups, businesses, summer camps and athletic teams.

The AaronStrong 5K

Our fundraisers throughout the year include The AaronStrong 5K, The AaronStrong Golf Tournament and 18 Days to Give, beginning March 1st. These allow us to give back to the community through the “GRIT Through It” series, AaronStrong Scholarships awarded to students who have overcome adversity, and financial assistance to community members that are battling through adversity.

TABLET: Is this organization directed to youth? Families? Elderly?

David: Our organization’s mission can be applied to everyone. We all face adversity and get knocked down. Sometimes, we need a little help getting back up. That is what we do; help people see a better perspective when everything seems to be going wrong.

TABLET: How can you help someone who reaches out?

David: We can give them information on our “Grit Through it Series,” as well as introduce them to our “Motivational Mondays, which is a motivational blog that is sent out each week through our email list and social media. We also do presentations for groups to introduce them to GRIT strategies and having a growth mindset.

TABLET: Can you share some success stories?

David: We have given out over $22,000 to date in the form of donations, scholarships, and individual assistance. We have impacted over 70 middle and high school students in our “GRIT Through It” series and presented to over 6,000 people including teams, schools, faculties, summer groups, businesses and church groups.

A student wrote:

“My sophomore year was rough for me.  My parents were going through a nasty divorce, and I had no motivation until I was in your class and saw your motivational spirit every day. Your AaronStrong speeches really impacted me to try harder and become a better person. Thank you, Mr. Bultema for pushing me to do what I want to do in life and teaching me about Grit. #AaronStong”

Last weekend Stormy Hill Harley-Davidson and Texas Roadhouse held a Chili Cookoff with proceeds to support AaronStrong Foundation.  For $5.00 pp, tasters got to try some of the best Chili in the County.