My dad kicked off week 10 making Warrior Wishes come true in Tampa on Thursday night at the Bucs game. From there my he got to soak up some sunshine for a few days & headed south to host a large group of warriors at the Dolphins game in Miami on Sunday.
Over the past 5 years my dad has spent many nights sleeping on overnight bus rides. But Last night, for the first time ever, he spent the night on an overnight flight! He travelled more than 3,300 miles to Seattle taking the longest commercial flight in the continental US!
And don’t worry, we did not waste money on this long flight. We used credit card points to cover it!
Needless to say, my dad didn’t even remember the flight as he was exhausted from the past few days of making warrior wishes come true in Florida.
He woke up in Seattle at 1am when the wheels hit the ground. He was able to get a few extra hours of sleep at the airport before grabbing a fresh cup of “Seattle’s Best Coffee” & catching the Light Rail to Downtown Seattle.
Seattle is one of the coolest places in the United States. From the Space Needle to Pike Place Fish Market and the birthplace of Starbucks, its an awesomely unique city & one of our favorite places to visit.
Since we have been to all 32 NFL stadiums, a lot of people ask us which one is our favorite? We must say, Century Link field is definitely towards the top of the list. Its a stadium with a lot of character & an amazing fan base! Here are some of our favorite memories making Warrior Wishes come true at “The Link.”
Garrett at Elysian Fields Brewery graciously offered to host everyone for dinner before the game. One of the Warriors wives had been there before and said it was a great restaurant!
Elysian Fields opened in 2006 in the stadium district south of downtown Seattle. It is located just North of CenturyLink and Safeco fields and (with seating in excess of 400 people) is built to handle crowds. Fields boasts a 120′ oval zinc-topped bar with a 40 tap custom draught tower and a competitive menu prepared by a top-end kitchen and staff. This location is great for game days, business lunches and everyday specialty dining and provides space for meetings, private parties and large events. Elysian Fields usually pours 18 different house-brewed styles. It truly was the perfect place to meet our warriors and get to know them before the game!
Two of our guests today have a Special story. Our previous guests nominated Marine brothers Richard and Keith Hernandez last season. We invited them to be our guests at last years Seahawks game but they had hunting trip planned at the same time & were unable to attend. They were pretty excited that we called back & invited them to be our guests this season.
Both Richard and Keith Hernandez served their country and both were exposed to the burn pits, which ultimately led to them Both getting cancer… But Marines never give up. They BOTH have kicked cancers butt and now lead healthy lives with their wives and young children. It was an honor to host these 2 brothers and their wives for dinner, along with our 3rd guest Army Cpt Jay Knower and his wife Shannon. Sgt Knower also brought along his Service Dog, Tango, who was the hit of the party all night long!
After thanking Garrett and Elysian Fields for the delicious meal, we walked about 100 yds to take a group picture in front of stadium.
We got inside just in time for the National Anthem.
As you may or may not know, Century Link Field is the loudest stadium in the NFL and it was rocking tonight!!!
The warriors saw a great seesaw battle all night long, Russell Wilson connected with Jimmy Graham 8 times for 106 yards & 2 TD’s to lead the Seahawks to a 31-25 win over the Bills. It was a very exciting game especially since the Seahawks came away with the W.
All 3 of our guests had friends or family at the game. Throughout the night they stopped visit & also ran into friends that they didn’t know were there. My dad said he could tell that was big part of their Seahawks Experience. His favorite memory of the night happened after the game was over. Seahawks DB Deshawn Shead invited the warriors to meet him after the game & provided a few post game passes. As they waited to go into the Players Area after the game. Richard ran into one his Marine buddies who was in his dress blues and gave him a huge Bear hug!
DeShawn Showed his appreciation to the warriors and thanked them all for their service and sacrifices. It was an unforgettable experience!
The Warriors also had the opportunity to meet and get photos with a few of the other Seahawks players. While the warriors were getting photos with them, Jay’s wife Shannon was filling up her New Era Cap with autographs.
Our group was one of the last ones there. but every good thing must come to an end, so we said our goodbyes and another great mission was accomplished!
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank DeShawn Shead from the Seahawks for helping us secure tickets & for taking time to meet the Warriors after the game. We also would like to thank Garrett from Elysian Reataurant for the pregame meal, Chive Charities for the KCCO shirts and of course New Era For providing the Seahawks caps for the Warriors!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Army Cpt Jay Knower and Marine brothers Richard & Keith Hernandez for their service and sacrifices! They are appreciated, have not gone unnoticed and will never be forgotten! (Oh and by the way, for those of you wondering, he WAS named after Mets baseball player Keith Hernandez)
My dad has is catching the early flight back to Chicago tomorrow morning and will get to spend about 22 hours at home before heading out to Baltimore to make Warrior Wishes come true at Thursday Night Football! Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
ARMY WARRIOR JAMES KNOWER
Hello, my name is James Knower. I joined the Army as an infantryman in may 2001. My first duty station was at FT Bragg with the 82nd ABN DIV. I was there from Nov 2001- APR 2006. During that time I deployed to Afghanistan(2003), Iraqi(2004), Louisiana for Katrina Relief(2005). I was DA selected to be an Infantry Drill Sergeant. I was stationed at Ft Benning as a drill sergeant from may 2006- June 2008. I was then stationed at Ft Lewis where I deployed to Afghanistan (2009-2010). I also deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 where I was involved in 3 IED Blasts in less than 24 hours.
On July 7th 2012 I was on a mission with my company. The mine rollers went ahead of us and cleared the area 3 times before we drove in. We were on a resupply to some of the guys who had run out of food and ammunition. My vehicle parked in an area that had been cleared and previously driven over ahead of us. I opened my door so my team leader could talk to me and my team leader stepped on an IED. This man was my best friend and he lost both his legs. I suffered a concussion, got my bearings and they worked on Chris, the guy who was seriously injured so they could get him on a flight out of there. They wanted to take me also, but I refused to leave my guys. We continued on our resupply mission and 45min later hit a 120lb bomb that totaled our vehicle. Again, I suffered another concussion. We stayed put while waiting on a new vehicle and then continued again. The next day July 8th we hit another bomb that totaled another truck, and again I suffered another concussion.
I continued without saying a word to my leaders. It was 2 weeks later when we were in a pre-mission meeting that I knew I couldn’t go on. I was sitting there listening to what they were going to do and where they were taking their guys. I didn’t comprehend any of what my First Sargent was saying. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my guys and I didn’t know where we were going. I told my First Sargent and they immediately air lifted me to Kandahar hospital. I spent 2 weeks in Kandahar before they sent me to Germany. I still thought I was going to be ok and go back out with my guys. I didn’t remember family members, places we had gone and things we had done. Three concussions in less than 24 hours is not good for the brain. They explained it as shaken baby syndrome in an adult. I was the same funny, joking guy, but things were very different in my brain. From Germany they sent me home to Washington. Madigan was great with all his tests and therapy. He has a great team working with him and he is better than he was. He was diagnosed with moderate TBI, PTSD, a pinched nerve in his back and neck and multiple other issues. I was gifted a service dog (Tango) by Manor Lake Labradoodles to help with balance issues, narcolepsy, and nightmares. I am a proud man, who went through 3 deployments with no problems and it was this 4th that did me in.
I now live in Puyallup WA with my wife, Shannon and our 4 kids, own my home, and work on projects around the house and yard. I coach 12-U select baseball and help out on my daughter’s soccer team.
MARINE RICHARD HERNANDEZ
Born and raised in Washington State I served in the USMC from 2005-2010. Stationed at Kaneohe Bay Hawaii with 1st Battalion 3rd Marines – I deployed to Iraq on (2) separate occasions and participated in combat operations throughout Anbar province. As an infantry squad leader I had the honor of training, mentoring, and leading 13 Marines in to combat – truly an awe inspiring and motivating experience. I will never forget the Marines and Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice. Shortly after leaving the Marine corps I was diagnose with stage 2 testicular cancer and underwent subsequent treatment at the VA hospital in Seattle. Now I am happy to say that I am cancer free and blessed to be living in Tacoma with my amazing wife Stephanie and 3 boys. Semper Fi.
Keith said ” The highlight of my evening was connecting with the other veteran James along with his wife and service dog Tango – we will be keeping in touch with them. My wife Stephanie and I appreciate your hospitality! Your outstanding work in helping veterans is a shining example of the USCM motto Semper Fidelis.”
It was an honor to host him & his brother at the game & make their Warrior Wishes come true!
Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!
Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714