The founder of Tunes 4 the Troops is 19-year-old Kaylee Radzyminski, a student on ROTC scholarship at Tennessee Tech University. She started the nonprofit five years ago, when she was just a freshman in high school. She got the idea for it after attending a U.S. Naval Sea Cadet camp in Florida, where she came in contact with a number of soldiers returning from overseas duty.
"I asked, What was the No. 1 thing they missed?'" Radzyminski told CNN. "The first thing was, of course, their families. But second to that was entertainment."
When Radzyminski returned from the camp to her hometown of Cleveland, Tenn., she immediately packed up a bunch of her old CDs and DVDs to ship to the troops. Then she enlisted the help of her friends and local community, putting donation boxes at football games, churches and neighborhood events. Her school, Cleveland High School, pitched in by setting up an account to manage financial donations for disc purchases, packing supplies and shipping expenses.
Since those humble beginnings, Tunes 4 the Troops has evolved into a national organization with 800 satellite locations. It is now headquartered at Tennessee Tech's Service Learning Center.
"When I first started Tunes 4 the Troops in high school, I missed out on a lot because I was packing boxes all the time," Radzyminski told Tennessee Tech's student newspaper, The Oracle. "Now that I'm here, the Service [Learning] Center has played a huge role in keeping everything up. I'm able to relax and be a college student."
At Saturday's shipping party, the 1 millionth CD was the latest Lynyrd Skynyrd album, "God & Guns." To mark the milestone, Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Mark Matejka signed and packed the CD into the final box himself.
Since its founding, Tunes 4 the Troops has shipped over $17 million worth of CDs and DVDs to troops in combat zones and military hospitals around the world. Over the past five years, Radzyminski has put in over 7,000 hours working to make the nonprofit a success, missing out on many typical teenage experiences. But when asked, she says she wouldn't change a thing.
"No way," she told the Cleveland Daily Banner. "I would do it all over again, knowing how many lives I've touched here at home and overseas. It was so worth it all."