After making Warrior wishes come true at the Dodgers game in LA, my dad made his way south to San Diego with hopes to host Warriors at the Home Run Derby.
Unfortunately we were unable to get tickets but it turned out to be a great networking opportunity. Plus he got to stay up all night to watch them lay down the red carpet for the All Star game. He actually “Slept” on it.
Speaking of Red carpets, my dad hopped on a 6am bus back to LA to make Warrior Wishes come true at the ESPY awards!
For the past 3 years, our friends at ESPN have helped us honor heroes by providing us the opportunity of a lifetime to walk the Red Carpet at the event.
Thanks to our friends at Virgin Airlines, I was able to join my dad in LA to host the Warriors at the ESPYs. My dad checked into an actual hotel for the first time all week and I met him there once I arrived. He said it was nice to clean up and get some rest.
Upon arrival, my dad & I made our way over to LA live to pick up our tickets & meet up with the Warriors for lunch thanks to Wolfgang Puck’s
Today we were honored to be hosting Marines Will Makaafi, Giovanni Perez & Army Warriors Geoffrey Quevado, Rigo Onellas & Shaun Castle at the “Body at ESPYS pre party. Will and Giovanni only joined us at dinner & Shaun’s flight didn’t land until 7pm, so he was just joining us at the party.
Wolfgang puck’s has been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true in Los Angeles over the past 3 years! Their hospitality has been incredible and their Food, as always, was delicious!!! I personally got the Margarita Pizza, YUMMMMMMY!!!
After dinner, my dad & I had to run back to the hotel to get dressed up for the party & more importantly, we had to pick up Shaun.
Shaun was all ready to go once he arrived. So we quickly got dressed and ubered back to LA Live to meet back up with Rigo & Geoffrey. We had the chance to meet Landon Donovan at our hotel while waiting for our ride.
Thankfully ESPN provides shuttles to & from the party which is in Hollywood about 25 minutes from the hotel. The Warriors quickly made friends on the bus and it was time to party!
The party was held at the Avalon just off Hollywood Blvd. Shaun, Rigo & Geoffrey had an unforgettable night. They had the opportunity to sit in the VIP section where athletes; Dwayne Wade, Tim Brown, Deandre Jordan, Travis Henry, Marcellus Wiley & Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller had the opportunity to meet the Warriors & thank them for their service!
There was also a Sasquatch sighting!
As we boarded the bus back to the hotel after the party, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Quinton Dial was humbled to meet the Warriors. Dial played college at Alabama, where Shaun currently plays wheel chair basketball. Shaun is a huge Alabama fan and was excited to have the chance to hang out with Quinton.
As we said good night to Rigo & Geoffrey, Shaun, my dad & I made our way back to the hotel to get some much needed rest. Shaun took the bed, my dad slept on the floor & I took the uncomfortable chair. After just a few hours of sleep we were up at 8am to take on the day. We had heard a new attraction, “the Skyslide” had recently opened up in LA. The name says it all, it’s a slide in the sky. A glass slide was recently installed at the top of the US bank tower. We woke up early to test it out.
Once on the top, we overlooked the entire Los Angeles area. The smog made it difficult to see too far, but it was a great view!
My dad is terrified of heights, he faced his fears and went to the top, but opted out of going on the slide 76 floors above LA. Surprisingly he took this picture leaning up against the glass.
Me being the nice guy I am, let Shaun test it out first. I followed right behind. It was a cool experience, but a little pricey ($35)…
We did some sightseeing before getting ready to hit the Red Carpet, making stops in Hollywood & Beverly Hills. We attempted to have lunch at the world famous “In-N-Out Burger” but the line stretched out the door so we took a pass & settled for subs.
Back at the hotel we ate lunch and got ready to show off our fancy suits on the Red Carpet. Shaun wore a Crimson Red coat to represent Alabama, he looked sharp!
We met back up with Will at Wolfgang Pucks to grab a drink and enjoy some air conditioning before standing outside in the heat.
As the Warriors took their first steps onto the Red Carpet their smiles extended from ear to ear. Will documented the whole experience on snapchat.
Thankfully Shaun had black pants on, otherwise I think he may have got lost in the color of the carpet…
Both Shaun & Will had the time of their lives meeting athletes, celebrities & living legends. Guys like Shaq, John Cena, Dr. J, Tim Brown, Richard Sherman, Aaron Rodgers, Hannibal Burress & Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry!
We also saw Quinton Dial again. Quinton immediately came over to us and hung out for a few minutes. I asked Shaun at the end of the day who he enjoyed meeting the most. He said Dial hands down followed by “Roll Tide.” We look forward to seeing Quinton on October 6th in San Francisco when we make Warrior Wishes come true at the 49ers game.
The show itself was inspiring as it always is. The opening video by John Cena is one that every American should see. The message was clear, we need to love one another and accept that we are all different. With all the craziness that’s going on right now, I think it’s important to share messages like these and hopefully inspire change & unity.
This years courage award was given to a young man, Zaevion Dobson, a 15 year old kid who saved 2 girls lives by shielding them from gunfire by laying on top of them sacrificing his own life to rescue them. That’s true courage.
Craig Sager’s story was extremely inspiring. Wearing one of his crazy custom suits, sager delivered a powerful message.
“Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, it’s not in endless supply. Time is simply how your live your life,” he said. “The way you think influences the way you feel, and the way you feel determines how you act.”
“I will continue to keep fighting sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me,” Sager said. “I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.”
Army Warrior Elizabeth Marks was recognized with the Pat Tillman award. She also shared a powerful message. “If you’re struggling, if you’re hurting… if you ever think you’re alone. You’re not. I am with you”
Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach & Kobe Bryant were recognized for their incredible careers. I think Kobe delivered my favorite quote of the night. “Rest at the end, not in the middle.”
An awesome tribute to Muhammad Ali wrapped up the show and we headed over across the street to the top floor of the parking garage for the after party.
ESPN rented out the entire parking garage for the event. There was an outdoor seating area up front with an enormous tent covering the back half of the venue. Video of the top plays of the year and espy nominees projected on the side of the tent & a massive Espys logo greets you as you step inside. Will continued to document his experience on Snapchat
An unlimited supply of food & drinks are available to everyone at no cost. The pulled pork & mini sliders definitely hit the spot.
We enjoyed hanging out with a World War II veteran
And Chris Berman at the Party. Chris is truly the reason we have had the opportunity to continue our mission over the past 4 years. He was the one who helped share our story on Monday Night football back in 2012! We cannot have thank him and all of our friends at ESPN over the past few years for giving us the opportunity to make Warrior Wishes come true at the ESPYs!
Needless to say everyone made memories that will last a lifetime & we could not have made them all possible without the support of Wolfgang Puck’s, who provided meals for the Warriors, Virgin America for providing transportation, New Era cap provided Caps for the Warriors & all of our friends at ESPN who continue to support our mission & make Warrior Wishes come true!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, we want to thank all the Warriors, Shaun, Will, Geoffrey, Rigo & Giovanni for their selfless service & sacrifices to our country. Never unnoticed, never forgotten! Thank you!
MEET THE WARRIORS
MARINE CPL WILLIAM MAKAAFI
My name is Cpl William Makaafi I served 4 years as an infantryman in Iraq 2009 with 1st BN 7th Marines and Afghanistan 2010 – 2011 with 3rd BN 5th Marines.
During my last deployment I served as a combat replacement with 3rd BN 5th Marines. The deployment to Sangin, Afghanistan from which sacrificed the lives of 25 Marine warriors and wounded almost 300.
Since my last deployment I’ve struggled from invisible wounds of PTSD & TBI. And through both I have slowly learned that I can not do certain things like play football or can’t act sports (because of seizures). Or I observe what’s going around around me. For the past 5 years since returned I’m gradually making my way mentally, toward trying to live my life in a positive way through recreational therapy!
A wounded brother of mine nominated me through Operation Warrior wishes to the 2016 ESPYS Awards. The experience of being around such high profiled individuals was a blessing but sharing that day with another wounded warrior was the highlight of my time at the ESPYS! I was asked who my favorite “celebrity” was of the numerous individuals I met that day. It took me a quick second to answer that question because it was so easy! My response was “Master Sgt. Leroy Arthur Petry” a true hero in my mind and was a true honor meeting him! Thank you Operation Warrior Wishes for having me and giving me the opportunity to continue to live my life happy!
I enjoy helping other veterans who struggle through invisible/physical wounds live a better life outside of there comfort zone through recreational therapy through local non profit organizations! I’m a sole believer that veterans who benefit through organizations such as Operation Warrior Wishes and many other organizations that it does more than educate the world in “awareness” for veteran suicide BUT sway us as Americans to sway more toward veteran suicided PREVENTION! And that’s what organizations like Operation Warrior Wishes does!
ARMY WARRIOR GEOFFREY QUEVEDO
My name is Geoffrey Quevedo, I was born and raised in Fresno, California. I am the youngest of three. Ever since I was a little kid, my dream was to join the United States Army. Growing up working in the restaurant business, I knew I wanted a “cool” job as an adult. When I turned 18, I joined the Army and went to basic training to Fort Knox, Kentucky as a 19 Delta Cavalry Scout. I then graduated and had to report to Fort drum, New York for my first duty station. On April 4, 2011 we deployed to Afghanistan. I was a mine detector for about 8 months. The morning of my birthday, November 26, 2011 I felt rejuvenated talking to my family. four days later on November 30, 2011 my partner and I were clearing a compound and just needed to finish the alley way. When we got to the end of the alley way, the I.E.D went off after my partner tried to uncover it. He lost both his legs above and below the knee, and remained conscious throughout the experience. The blast his part of my face and lost consciousness ,my left arm/leg, broken jaw/nose, loss of my four front teeth, small blind spot on my left eye, and multiple shrapnel damage. Almost four years later, I am now married with six dogs, and I’m going to school for my Bachelors in Psychology, to pursue a carrier as a counselor for the troubled youth or for combat veterans. Having this tractor will allow me to work on my property independently and not make me feel useless knowing I could still do “manly” things. I would like to thank Operation Warrior Wishes, for helping out veterans such as myself fulfill their wishes!