After making Warrior Wishes come true at the Boston Red Sox game last night…

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My dad got a couple hours of sleep at South Station and caught an early morning bus to Foxboro to officially kickoff our 2017 “All32in17” mission at the Patriots game!  

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

5 years ago I asked my dad “Do you think it’s possible to attend an NFL game at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season (17 weeks).  In April of 2012, the day the NFL released the schedule, my dad & I spent 2 hours mapping out our route & realized it was possible.  

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When we decided we were going to attempt it, & wanted to find a way to give back along the way.  Both my dad & I had a big appreciation for the military.  Mainly because my uncle (my dad’s brother) served.  He was our inspiration & why we decided to invite military warriors as our guests to every game we were going to attend throughout our father & son mission in 2012.  

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What started as a journey to become the first father & son in the world to attend All 32 NFL stadiums in one season quickly took on a life of its own.  The mission had little to do with the games on the field & more to do with showing the brave men & women who selflessly served our country that they haven’t gone unnoticed, they are appreciated & they will never be forgotten!

We never imagined that mission would have changed our lives.  Throughout the 2012 NFL season we were humbled & honored to have hosted more than 70 warriors at 35 NFL games including the Super Bowl!  

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Halfway through the 2012 season, ESPN heard about our mission & shared our story on Monday night football on Veterans Day!  Immediately after it aired, Coach Ditka (who was a part of the pregame show) said “if those guys get a hold of me, I’ll fund their mission.”

Coach Ditka was a man of his word. He cut us a check with the intention of paying us back for the cost of our mission. But my dad & I had a bigger idea.  Instead of paying ourselves back, we decided to use that money to create a 501c3 non profit foundation to continue our mission to “honor heroes, keep legacies alive & provide once in a lifetime experiences to warriors from the Battlefields to the Ballfields. 

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Since our very first game on September 5th, 2012, we have been honored & humbled to host more than 3000 warriors at more than 600 events across the country!  We couldn’t have made them all possible without the support of everyone who has helped us along the way.  From Teams, to players, to coaches, volunteers & donors, we are thankful for all of you!

So here we are, ready to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Patriots game & kickoff our 6th annual All32in17 mission!  

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We have truly made some unforgettable memories at Gillette stadium in Foxboro throughout the years. 

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One of the most memorable & emotional experiences of all came on September 12th, 2013, when we teamed up with the Kraft family & the Patriots to host wounded warriors & Boston Bombing survivors for a “night of inspiration.” That is a night we will never forget!

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Gillette stadium is one of the coolest stadiums in the NFL. It’s one of few stadiums with a lot of character.  Their 130 foot trademark “lighthouse” is the signature architectural symbol of Gillette Stadium.  Architect John Bolles designed the stadium’s main entrance to capture the maritime heritage of New England’s coastal communities. At field level, a coastal seawall was constructed using sculpted rock formations around the base of the Lighthouse.  A replica arched bridge was designed to resemble Boston’s famous Longfellow Bridge and traverses next to the Lighthouse over the main entrance to give fans a unique perspective of the game!  And did I mention that Gillette stadium is also home to the 5x super bowl champion Patriots!  

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Before and after every Patriots game you have to make sure to stop by “Patriot Place.”  Patriot Place is filled with great shopping, great restaurants & a Patriots “Hall of Fame!”$

Today we were honored to be hosting Marine Cpl Kevin Dubois, Army Sgt)

My dad arrived at The stadium around 3pm to meet up with Clayton Litham and the “Maine Lobstah fishermen Tailgate.” Clayton & his fishermen friends have been helping us make wishes come true since 2012! The warriors began to arrive at the tailgate at around 4:30pm. Marine Cpl Dubois and his dad were first to arrive.  As my dad got to know them, he learned CPL Dubois’ dad actually helped build this stadium!  Neither Of them had ever been to an NFL game and this is there First father-son event together since 2015 when they atttended MLS soccer game at this same stadium!  

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For obvious reasons, It’s always special to us when we have the opportunity to host a father and son.  Especially when it’s their first ever NFL Experience!  

While waiting for the other warriors to arrive, my dad, Kevin & his dad walked to the mini “NFL Experience” they had set up outside the stadium for Opening Night.  They also talked to the NFL Network crew & had the opportunity to meet former Patriots star linebacker, Willie McGinest!  

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Eventually they made their way back to the tailgate to meet up with SSG Boiteau & SGT Manning.  They also enjoyed fresh “Lobstah” as well as other delicious food.  As usual, Clayton and his Maine fishermen crew were awesome with the warriors had a lot of fun before the game!  

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The Patriot’s defensive assistant coach, Brendan Daly, helped us secure tickets for Opening night!  Coach Daly has helped make Wishes come true since 2012 when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.  We cannot thank him enough for his support.  The warriors had the opportunity to meet Coach Daly before the game.  

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As game time approached, everyone made their way inside the stadium to watch the Patriots unveil their Super Bowl LI championship banner before the game.  

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The stadium was electric and the fans went wild as the teams took the field to kickoff the 2017 season.  

With a couple of new additions to the Patriots roster, there was a lot of talk about the team going undefeated & early on, it looked as if they were going to be unstoppable.  They scored on the first drive of the game with ease and recovered a fumble to put them in position to go up 2 scores early.  

A few plays later, Gronkowski made a diving catch in end zone to make it 14-0!  But after review, they call on the field was changed to an incomplete pass to wipe out the score.  The Patriots failed to convert on 4th & 1 and gave the chiefs some confidence & momentum.  

The Patriots maintained the lead much of the game, but the Chiefs kept it close until they connected on a couple of huge plays to give them the lead in the 4th quarter & they never looked back adding a couple more scores to upset the Patriots at home on opening night.  Despite the loss, it was another successful mission as the warriors all still had a great time!  

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Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Patriots Defensive Line coach, Brendan Daly for going above and beyond to help us provide an unforgettable experience at the game!  We also want to thank Clayton & the Maine Lobster Fishermen for hosting everyone at your tailgate before the game and New Era for providing New Patriots Caps to the warriors!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we salute Marine Cpl Kevin Dubois, Army Sgt Lee Manning & SSG Matthe Boiteau for their selfless service and sacrifices.  We truly hope you had an experience that you will never forget.  

After my dad said goodbye, he took the train to South Station & hopped on a bus to the Airport to catch his 5:00 AM flight back home.   He will be back in action this Sunday to make Wishes come true at the Bears game and on Monday at the Vikings game.  Stay tuned for more details!

MEET THE WARRIORS

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Marine CPL Kevin Dubois

Marine Corporal Kevin Dubois was on his second deployment when he lost both of his legs at the hip after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on July 31, 2011.

While in the role of Scout Sniper, Cpl Dubois was clearing a helicopter landing zone for the medical evacuation of an injured teammate. Upon going into a prone position, his left foot hit the pressure plate of an IED, triggering the bomb. Knocked unconscious by the blast, the helicopter that was previously dispatched arrived soon after the event, airlifting both Cpl Dubois and his injured teammate to Camp Bastion.

Next airlifted to Bagram Air Force Base, Cpl Dubois required 14 units of blood in order to be stabilized for transport to Landstuhl, Germany. He was airlifted stateside to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland before being transferred to Balboa Hospital in San Diego.

Kevin enjoys spending time with his family in their custom built home by Homes for our Troops. Since receiving their home in 2013, Kevin and his wife Kayla have started a family and now have a son and daughter. Hand-cycling, 4-wheeling, video games, and target shooting are some of the hobbies that interest Kevin.

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Army SGT Lee Manning

SGT Manning served as a forward observer with the First Cav in the Army.  He deployed on 2 tours to Iraq, taji and Fallujah.  He now lives in Maine & enjoys getting out and playing sports.  He had never been to a professional sporting event and loves cheering for the Patriots, Falcons, Celtics & LSU.

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SSG Matt Boiteau

Matthew Boiteau is a 35 year old combat veteran. He served with the 10th Mountain Division from 2002-2009 as an Infantryman. He deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 while on Patrol in Ghazaliya, Iraq an IED struck his Patrol. Boiteau suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of the blast and was later diagnosed with PTSD. He was medically discharged from the Army in 2009, as a Staff Sergeant. Life for Matt was a struggle for many years after his service, but he continued to fight on and keep going. To this day he still struggles daily but says “for the first time in a long time I feel like things are getting brighter.” Matt works as a manager at the Post Office.  He’s married to “an amazing woman” & loves hanging out with Boris, his service dog.  SSG Boiteau is “extremely proud to have served his country and to live in the greatest country on earth.”

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!

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

Make sure to follow our mission live on Facebook Twitter & Instagram @WarriorWishes.

 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!