We have made Warrior Wishes come true at 13 NFL games in 4 weeks since kicking off our 2017 “All32in17” mission!
We’re kicking off week 5 in Tampa to make Wishes come true at the Buccaneers game for a couple of very deserving & inspiring warriors.
Tampa has always been one of my dads favorite spots to make Wishes come true. Over the years we have made some unforgettable memories & amazing friendships. Here are some of our favorite moments.
My dad took off to Tampa Wednesday afternoon & arrived around 8pm. He tied up some loose ends before resting up overnight at the airport.
He made his way to Whole Foods Thursday afternoon to meet up with the warriors before the game. Whole Foods has been an amazing partner of ours throughout the years. Especially in Tampa. Each of the last 6 years, Whole Foods has hosted the warriors for a pregame meal before our annual Buccaneers game. Not only does Whole Foods provide a delicious healthy meal, but they also give us the opportunity to get to know the warriors in a fun relaxed environment. We are thankful for their generosity & support!
Today we were honored to be hosting Army Sgt Dan Carpenter & Marine Cpl Michael Jernigan at the Bucs game. SGT Carpenter and his wife Nicole were first to arrive at Whole Foods. My dad got to know them a little bit while waiting for CPL Jernigan. Dan proudly served in the Army for 12 1/2 years before being medically retired. He is an avid Bucs fan & was excited to attend his first ever NFL game!
Marine Michael Jernigan and his new bride of only 6 months,KimberLee arrived a few minutes later & everyone enjoyed getting to know each other over lunch.
Michael Jernigan is a Marine who followed in the steps of his grandfather and father into the United States Marine Corps fulfilling a childhood dream. On August 22, 2004 while on a deployment in Iraq, Michael’s platoon was on patrol when it was hit by two 155mm artillery shells buried under the ground. The Improvised Explosive Devise threw Michael 20 meters from their Humvee. Michael suffered life treating and life changing injuries that day. 45% of his cranium was crushed in. He had shrapnel enter in his right eye and exit through his left eye, cutting everything in between. He had to have two fingers reattached and his left knee fully reconstructed. He fractured his patella and cut his femoral artery. Michael is the first US service member to lose both eyes in the global war on terror. He went through 30 major surgeries in the first 12 months and spent 16 month in hospitals and rehab facilities.
It has been thirteen years since the attack. Michael has taken his second chance at life and turned it into something that is never taken for granted. He volunteers his time whenever it is needed and always offers a helping hand. Eleven years ago Michael Co founded Paws for Patriots at South Eastern Guide Dogs; which provides guide dogs and service animals to veterans. He has touched thousands of lives through his motivational speaking, peer to peer counseling and most recently his book, titled “Vision”. He has turned the most traumatic experience of his life into a life filled with a new purpose; to help others gain their vision. Michael’s favorite saying is, “It wasn’t until I lost my sight, that I gained my vision”. Too often people solely rely on their eyes to see, but miss out on life’s most precious moments, the ones you can’t see, but only feel. Michael truly embodies what it means to be a Marine, “honor, courage, commitment”. Learn more about Michael Jernigan and get his book here!
Before heading over to Raymond James stadium, my dad presented the warriors with Thank You letters & New Bucs caps courtesy of New Era. Shane, from the Tampa fire department escorted the warriors & my dad over to the stadium after Lunch.
Shane really enjoyed hanging out with the guys and took a couple pics with them after he dropped everyone off right in front of stadium. He also offered to give them a ride back to their cars after the game.
My dad had hoped to tailgate with the “What The Buc” super fans, but unfortunately unable to get there before the game.
Typically Bucs tickets are fairly inexpensive. However, the defending super bowl champion New England Patriots were in town. This made tickets hard to get and expensive. Thankfully we found a great deal on NFL ticket exchange & got the warriors some great seats.
My dad walked the warriors into the stadium & had hoped to find a cheap ticket outside so he too could hang out with the guys inside. But he was unable to find anything for less than $200. He enjoyed the view outside while the guys cheered on the Bucs inside.
The Bucs put up a great fight against a tough Patriots team. In fact, it’s a game they should have won! But they missed 3 field goals and lost by the score of 19-14. It was an exciting game that came down to the final play of the game! Despite the loss the guys had a great time!
After the game, a few Patriots players actually came off the bus to take photos and sign a few autographs. Michael’s wife KimberLee actually is a Patriots fan, so she walked over by the busses but couldn’t get to close due to big crowds. Shane had the bus waiting for the guys and drove the everyone back to their cars where they said their goodbyes.
We want to thank Whole Foods for their continued support throughout the years, we also want to thank New Era for providing Bucs caps & the Tampa fire department for providing transportation to and from the game for the warriors!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, we want to thank Army SGT Dan Carpenter and Marine CPL Michael Jernigan for their dedicated service and sacrifices to our country! We salute you!
As the warriors headed home, my dad headed for the airport to get some rest. He hopes to hang out on the beach tomorrow and get some work done as long as the weather hold up. He will be flying to Houston tomorrow night and will be back in action at the Texans game on Sunday! Stay tuned for more details.
It was an honor to host these brave warriors and make their Warrior Wishes come true. If you know a deserving warrior who would love to attend a game on our “All32in17” mission please nominate them today!
Make sure to follow our mission live on Facebook Twitter & Instagram @WarriorWishes.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!