We kicked off our 2017 “All32in17” Mission off on Thursday in New England & made Wishes come true at the Patriots game. The warriors had an unforgettable experience!
My dad made his way back home Friday morning & had a relatively “easy” week considering our 2nd game of the Season was here in Chicago. We typically try to schedule our Bears game during the middle of the season to give my dad a little break from his hectic travel itinerary. Lucky for him, this is one of 2 Bears games on our schedule.
On a picturesque day in Chicago, I dropped my off to catch the 6:37 AM train so he could get downtown to tailgate with the warriors by 8:30.
Today we were honored to be hosting Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Shannon & honoring the legacy of Army SGT Paul Smith by hosting his wife & son in his honor. (MEET THE WARRIORS BELOW)
Upon arrival at Union Station in Chicago, my dad decided to get some exercise & walk a few miles to “Da Bus” tailgate near Soldier Field.
“Da Bus” is an old 1974 school bus that was converted into the ultimate Bears party bus. It’s one of the most exciting places to tailgate before any Bears game. And you never know who may show up. More than 35 former Bears players including Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus & Dan Hampton have come out to tailgate with Da Bus! Celebrity chef Guy Fieri even filmed an episode of “Tailgate Warriors” with the crew!
Tim Shanley, the owner of “Da Bus” has not missed a Bears game since 2008! And did I mention that Tim lives in Austin Texas? He is a die hard Bears fan who has logged over 130,000 miles since he began his streak.
For Tim, he says it’s all about good food, having fun & hanging out with great friends! We cannot thank them enough for hosting warriors at their tailgate since 2013!
The Smith family had arrived at the tailgate before my dad. When he arrived, Kim was in the middle of a giant game of Jenga with a few other Bears fans. Meanwhile, her son, Ben, was capturing the action on video.
My dad interrupted the game to introduce himself and to thank Kim for her husbands service & ultimate sacrifice to our country. He gave Kim a big hug before letting her finish the game. And after she won her Jenga game, my dad escorted Kim & Ben over to meet “Bearman.”
As always, Tim & his tailgate crew made them feel very welcome and expressed his gratitude for their family’s service & sacrifices as well. He also made sure they knew they “were like family ” and were welcome into “Da Bus” anytime they wanted. So they decided to take a little break while they waited for Navy Veteran Ryan Shannon to arrive.
Upon arrival, my dad walked Ryan onto the bus to introduce him to the Smiths & distribute new Bears caps to everyone courtesy of New Era. Moments later, former Bears Wide Receiver, Tom Waddle walked onto the bus & surprised everyone!
After filling up on great food & getting to know new friends, everyone made their way to Soldier Field. Home of the Chicago Bears!
Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL. The stadium originally opened on October 9th 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium. The name was changed to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925, as a memorial to U.S. soldiers, like SFC Paul Smith, who had made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.
The stadium closed for renovations in 2001. The work took a total of 20 months to complete and on September 29, 2003 the stadium reopened & looked as if a “Spaceship” on top of it.
To preserve Soldier Field, the classic colonnades were saved intact as a lasting monument to its glorious past and a 250-foot granite-wall sculpture serves as a memorial to the men and women who served in the armed forces.
It has been an honor to make all of these Warrior Wishes come true at Soldier Field over the past 5 years.
We had one more surprise for the warriors before the game. As my dad was walking them up to the stadium he presented them each with an autographed 8×10 personally signed by Brian Urlacher!
Needless to say, they were excited for the Bears to kickoff the 2017 season against the defending NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons.
Many bears fans have low expectations for this year’s Bears team, but I Think the Bears surprised a lot of people & almost beat the Falcons! Trailing by 6 late in the 4th quarter, the Bears marched down the field to set up a 1st and goal opportunity. Unfortunately, a couple of dropped passes in the end zone cost them a Win & the Falcons escaped with a 23-17 Win.
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Tim at “Da Bus” for hosting everyone at the tailgate. Bearman and former Bear Tom Waddle for taking time to show their support to the warriors and their families as well as Brian Urlacher for sending us a couple of signed 8×10’s for the warriors. We also want to thank New area for providing Bears caps to the warriors!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly we want to thank Navy Veteran Ryan Shannon & the Smith family for their service & sacrifices. May we never forget!
With ticket prices at over $150 for opening day, my dad made his way back home once he walked the warriors to the stadium. He wanted to get a little family time in before making his way back downtown for the 2nd time today to catch his $1 overnight megabus to Minneapolis for tomorrow’s Vikings game. Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Shannon
Shannon developed post-traumatic stress disorder from fighting a fire on the nuclear submarine USS Miami when it was dry docked in New Hampshire.
One of the first at the scene, he took charge of the firefight on the vessel’s port side.
The fire was enormous and ravaged the sub, with heat so intense the military and civilian crews trying to put it out could only spend 30 seconds at the front, then would retreat for a couple of minutes to cool off.
“For 10½ hours, we fought that fire,” Shannon said. “It was chaos. My uniform was melting to my legs, and my boots were melting to the surface. … We pulled people out of there we thought were dead.”
Shannon was a hero at the disaster, but shortly after, PTSD began affecting him. He continued his job, however, and was soon back on the sub.
Army SGT Paul Smith
Paul G. Smith was born July 9th, 1965 in East Peoria, Illinois. Paul attended East Peoria schools and graduated from East Peoria High School in 1984. Paul worked many different odd jobs until he met his surviving wife Kim L. Day-Smith of Kewanee, Illinois where he made the brave decision to join the armed forces in the Army to provide for his new and upcoming family in 1993. Paul took his family all over the world including Vilseck, Germany to Fort Hood, Texas and ending in Fort Riley, Kansas on his military deployments. Paul did six tours overseas to protect our country after 9/11. His final tour was his sixth tour to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Paul and Kim were married twenty-one years and had two children, Sarah and his biological son, Benjiman. Paul loved his fish and he built a pond while on R/R in 2009 and had several fish tanks that he took pride in. Paul also like bowling and spending time with his family and teaching Benjiman how to build things. Paul’s favorite show he watched was “Smallville” on Sunday nights with popcorn and grilled cheese after the football games that Kim demanded he watched with her and Benjiman. Paul’s favorite holiday was Halloween where he loved seeing the children dress up and his wife too. They liked scaring the children in the neighborhood when they came up for trick or treating.
Paul was an older soldier joining at the age of twenty-seven but his crew treated him as an equal. Paul loved his family and his friends dearly, and wanted to do his duty to protect them and preserve their freedom.
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!