After making Warrior Wishes come true thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night…
My dad made his way to the Jacksonville Greyhound station to get a couple of hours of sleep before his early morning bus to Tampa to make Warrior Wishes come true at both the Rays & Bucs games!
Since 2012, we have made some unforgettable memories hosting heroes in Tampa. My personal favorites include Dan Orlovsky (Bucs QB) going above and beyond to make a special day for the warriors at Bucs games.
I’ll also never forget watching the game from the pirate ship, watching the warriors faces light up when our friend Stuart Scott surprised them on the field, and all the times the Rays have helped us make Wishes come true at Tropicana field!
Speaking of the Rays… when we created our schedule in April, we noticed the Rays were playing at home on Friday & Saturday before the Bucs game Sunday. So my dad made his way to Tampa early to make some more wishes come true thanks to the Rays!
He also had the opportunity to meet up with our old friend Mike Delancey. Mike was critically injured in a sniper attack during military combat while serving in Iraq and has confronted his own life changing injuries. He created the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch to inspire veterans of all conflicts to get OUT and ACTIVE. The Ranch and Park offers activities for all Military Veterans in need of a supportive and healing environment, to give them a new sense of hope, resilience and strength as they move forward in their journey. Check out the ranch and support the WWAR mission here!
Mike was one of our original guests in 2012. It was an honor to host him and we are so proud of him for all he has and continues to accomplish!
The wounded Warrior amputee softball team was also in town playing a tournament, so my dad went with Mike on the WWAR bus to cheer them on while he was in town.
Fast forward to Sunday, my dad made his way to Raymond James Stadium to meet up with Navy Corpsman John Barry, Army Combat Medic Chase Colon & Marine Kyle Bethel.
John Barry left for boot camp at Great Lakes on May 19, 2000! John was stationed in Coronado for 6 years and deployed 5 times (3 to Afghanistan and 2 to Iraq) He later transferred to Kaneohe Marine Corp Base where he was deployed two more times as a augmentee to the Army!
In February of 2008 John’s vehicle was hit by a IED, he was the only survivor. After numerous surgeries and time spent at Wounded Warrior Battalion in San Diego, CA John was medically retired as a Petty Officer 2nd Class on October 27, 2011.
Porfirio “Chase” Colón. served in the United States Army as a Combat Medic for over 7 years.
Kyle Bethel joined the USMC at 17. He served on 2 combat tours in Afghanistan. 2 weeks after leaving on his 1st deployment his wife gave birth to his twin sons 8 weeks early. They were in the NICU for 3 weeks and didn’t get to meet their father until the were 6 months old. During Kyle’s first deployment he suffered a TBI. He served 4 years in the USMC before returning home to Florida.
Mike and the WWAR has a tailgate before the game and hosted group of warriors before the game. My dad surprised the guys with front row seats at the Tailgate! Needless to say, they were pumped up for the experience! Especially John as this was his first Bucs game ever!
As game time approached, the group made their way to the front row to watch the giants and Bucs kickoff.
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans gave the warriors a lot to cheer about as he scored 3 Touchdowns and had over 150 yards in the first half!
But Daniel Jones and the Giants kept pace with the Bucs. In the end, the Bucs had a 34 yard field goal opportunity for the win (kicking towards the warriors end zone) but the ball sailed wide right and the Bucs lost 32-31…
Despite the loss, the warriors still enjoyed their experience and had a great time!
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank John, Chase, Kyle, Mike and all of the players on the wounded warriors softball team for their service and sacrifices! You guys are appreciated and will never be forgotten!
After the game my dad made his way to the airport for a good night sleep before catching his early morning flight to DC. We will be back in action making Warrior Wishes come true at the Redskins game tomorrow! Stay tuned.