After making Warrior Wishes come true at the Steelers game, my dad took an overnight bus from Pittsburgh, PA and made stops in Baltimore MD, Washington DC, Wilmington, DE & eventually arrived in New York early Monday morning.
From there he hopped on a train and arrived in East Rutherford, NJ to make Warrior Wishes come true and honor 9/11 first responders at the New York Giants game. If you were keeping track he was in 6 STATES in 12 HOURS!
Over the past 4 seasons we have made some amazing friends and unforgettable memories while making Warrior Wishes come true at Giants games!
This is the 29th NFL game we have hosted heroes at this season!
If you have been following our mission, you may remember at the beginning of the season, Titans LB Avery Williamson wore custom 9/11 Cleats on opening day (sept. 11th) to honor the victims, survivors & first responders of the 9/11 attacks.
He contemplating whether or not to wear them as the NFL had threatened to fine him. His story went viral and was even featured on TMZ! He had an incredible outpouring of support encouraging him to wear the cleats & eventually he made the decision to wear them in the game. Thankfully the NFL backed off and decided not to fine him. Avery auctioned the cleats off after the game and raised more than $6k! He chose to donate a large portion of those funds to Operation Warrior Wishes.
When we learned we were going to receive the donation, we immediately decided we would use the money to host 9/11 first responders & Warriors at the Jets & Giants game this year.
We were extremely excited to be hosting Marine Ariel Morillo along with 8 September 11th First Responders at tonight’s Giants game!
My dad arrived at MetLife stadium early Monday morning to set up all the ticket arrangements and Field Pass pick up, as well as coordinating communication with each of our guests to make sure he was there greeting each of them as they arrived at the tailgate.
Our friend Ed Salomeh, who has been hosting us at his tailgate since the first ever game of our mission in 2012, set up a very Special Tailgate for this event. Ed and his friend CJ arrived at 3pm in their custom wrapped Giants RV to set up the tailgate. We cannot thank Ed and his tailgate crew enough for their hospitality & support over the years!
Marine Ariel Morillo, and his girlfriend were the first to arrive at around 4pm. They were welcomed with open arms by both myself & Ed’s tailgate crew.
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Retired Police Officer Ray Phillips, First Responder Jimmy Hayhurst and current NY firefighter Chris Vesey for nominating the First Responders recipients for this Special Event. The first responders began arriving around 5, a little later than expected due to heavy traffic. Brothers Chris & Mike Burmeister were the first to arrive. Mike was FDNY, Chris was NYPD – and they also brought another retired firefighter, Mike Daggett. All of them were on duty on that horrible day. They enjoyed talking with Ed’s friend Tom, a State Trooper who was also called in that day to help out. A few minutes later, the rest of the crew arrived – NYPD officers Chris Carlucci and Ray Phillips, current FDNY Pete Castellano and retired firefighter Brian Creeden.
With the gang all here it was time to have a little fun and get to know each other. They all enjoyed the delicious food and drinks at the tailgate!
Our friend Ed was the VERY FIRST person ever to contact us about our mission – even before ESPN story. He saw one of my tweets about our first game at the Giants Home Opener in 2012 & reached out to invited us to bring the warriors to his tailgate. He has hosted us every year since then.
Him and his buddy CJ also have provided Each of our warriors in all 5 seasons with a Gift Bag full of jerseys, jackets, shoes and everything NY Giants. These gift bags easily have $500 to $1000 worth of stuff in them and it is priceless watching these guys open the bags to see all the cool gifts!
New York Giants TV filmed Ariel opening his gift bag & interviewed him for a piece on Giants TV to highlight both Ed’s Tailgate and our efforts to make warrior wishes come true!
Thanks to the Giants, some of the guys had the opportunity to take advantage of field passes. They were able to watch the players warm up from the field!
While most of the guys enjoyed the passes, Ariel’s girlfriend, Mike Daggett the retired firefighter and my dad, went over by the ESPN set. My dad had told everyone to make their way over to ESPN to get photo on ESPN. Unfortunately they were not allowed to move to other side of field because the field was extremely crowded with people on the sidelines. My dad said it was the most people on the field he had ever seen. In his own words “It looked like Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras all around the sidelines!”
While my dad was with Mike and Natasha in the stands they were shown on TV standing next to the “Cmon Man” sign. Steve Young also stopped by to autograph a copy of his newly released book for Mike.
After everyone made their way up to their seats, the Giants scored quickly in first Qtr, but Bengals answered with TD of their own, set up by 71 yard pass to Tyler Eifert to tie the game at 7. The game remained close the entire game but Eli Manning’s 3rd TD pass on 4th and 2 early in fourth quarter put Giants up 21-20 and turned out to be winning touchdown.
Needless to say, everyone had a great time at the game! We couldn’t have made it all possible without Avery Williamson who gave us the opportunity to host 9/11 first responders & warriors by wearing the custom Cleats to raise money for our organization. We’d also like to thank Ed Salomeh and CJ Carbone who hosted everyone at their incredible tailgate, The New York Giants for providing Field Passes and New Era Caps for providing Giants caps for all of the heroes! THANK YOU!!!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, THANK YOU to Marine Ariel Morillo for your service and sacrifices to our country. They have not gone unnoticed, they are appreciated & will never be forgotten! Last but not least, thank you to all the first responders out there. Especially the ones who were there on 9/11. We truly appreciate all you do day in and day out to serve our communities! Let us never forget!
My dad will spend the night sleeping on the ledge of the food court at Laguardia airport before catching his early morning flight back home. He will be back in action Thursday night making warrior wishes come true at the Panthers game. Stay tuned for more details.
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