After a crazy few weeks of being on the road making Warrior wishes come true in Green Bay, Kansas City, Denver, Nashville, Indianapolis & Chicago, my dad was happy to be back home for a few days to catch up with family and catch up on lost sleep.
Xander especially enjoyed having his G-Pa back home!
The 2 days flew by and my dad was back on the road Wednesday afternoon. He kicks off week 9 making Warrior Wishes come true in Tampa at the Bucs game. From there he will take a bus to Miami to host heroes on Sunday before taking a cross country flight to make warrior wishes come true in Seattle Monday night.
My dad arrived in the sunshine state Wednesday evening. Since the game was not until Thursday, he was able to get some work done before getting a few hours of sleep on a couch at the airport. First thing Thursday morning he caught the early HART bus to the stadium area to scope things out & get ready for the day.
We were honored to be hosting Marine Cpl Derek Butler, his wife Kristina, and Army Sgt Corey Lehman with his 12 year old daughter Chevi. It was Chevi’s First NFL Game Ever. My dad met up with the Butlers outside the stadium by the gigantic Buccaneers flag in the tailgate parking lot.
Thanks to Panera Bread, the were able to sit down and get to know each other before heading over to the stadium. Tony at Panera had put together a little Bagel package with bagels and spreads.
Kristina and I dug right in, but Derek wasn’t gonna have one until he realized they had those Cinnamon Crunch ones.For those of you who have never been to Panera, these are probably the best bagels you will ever eat.
Sgt Lehman and his daughter were running a little late due to traffic. My dad packed up the extra bagels for them and headed over to the tailgate, which was literally right across the parking lot. Our friend Matt AKA “BucNutz” welcomed the guys to the ultimate Bucs tailgate. Here’s a picture of their “Pirate Ship.”
Cpl Butler and his wife walked around some of the booths and activities around the stadium collecting souvenirs for their kids while my dad picked up tickets from will call. By the time they met back up SGT Lehman and his daughter had arrived.
Everyone seemed pretty excited for the game, especially Chevi. She was looking forward to be going with her dad, my dad said she was a great kid, helping her dad whenever he needed it.
CPL Butler & Sgt lehman knew each other from a previous event that they had attended. It’s always nice when the Warriors have the opportunity to reconnect thru our mission.
Everyone headed inside just before game time and switched our seats for some great ADA seats thanks to Rich & Augie in the Bucs front office.
Unfortunately, the game did not go as well as Corey and Derek would have liked as, after scoring first and taking 7-0 lead, the Buccaneers fell behind 10-7 and were really never in the game after that losing 43-28. Two late touchdowns made the score closer than game really was. Despite the loss, everyone still had a great time!
My dad was able to get a cart back to their car after the game. He rode back with them, gave Corey and Chevi a bag of bagels for snack, thanked them one last time and said their goodbyes.
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Tony at Panera Bread for providing the bagels, New Era Cap for providing new Bucs caps for the Warriors, Chive Charities for the KCCO shirts, as well as Rich & Augie from the Bucs front office for helping us get ADA seating and a cart ride!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, THANK YOU to Marine Derek Butler and Army Sgt Corey Lehman for your service & sacrifices to our country. It’s appreciated, has not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten!
My dad will spend another night at the airport in Tampa before hopping on a $1 Megabus to Miami to make Warrior Wishes come true at Dolphins game Sunday. Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
ARMY WARRIOR DEREK BUTLER
Derek Butler grew up in central Florida and when he turned 18 decided to join the army in September 2006. He completed basic and Air. Then went to his first duty station in june 2007 in California. He then deployed to iraq in October of 2007 and served overseas until October 2008 and medically discharged in august of 2009. Derek and his wife have 2 beautiful children and a service dog named phoenix.
ARMY WARRIOR COREY LEHMAN