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Game 18 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Arizona!

On Saturday night my Dad flew from Chicago to spend less than an hour in LA before driving south to San Diego, then spent less than 24 hours in San Diego making Warrior Wishes come true at the Chargers game before taking an overnight bus to Phoenix to do it all over again Monday night.  So if you’re keeping track, in the matter of 3 days he has been in Chicago, LA, San Diego & Phoenix!

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Today my dad was honored to host Army Sgt Michael Schwartz, Navy Warriors Jesse Tejeda & Dan Majures, as well as the Gold Star family of Army LTC Michael Warren. (Meet the Warriors below)
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My dad met up with the warren family for dinner before the game at McFadden’s in Glendale, just outside the stadium.
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McFadden’s Saloon is one of Glendale AZ’s premier sports bars.  It was a great place to get to learn about LTC Warren’s legacy & have a delicious meal with his wife & son.
Unfortunately Mike, Dan & Jesse got caught in traffic and were unable to make it to dinner.  So my dad met up with them just outside the stadium and escorted them inside.  
The Cardinals went above and beyond by providing tickets for the warriors.  
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After a few Cardinals mistakes late in the 4th quarter, the Ravens almost made an incredible comeback, but the cardinals held on for the win with a game saving interception in the end zone for the win!  It was a great way to end a great day.
My dad thanked the Warriors one last time for their service & sacrifices after the game and went directly to the airport to catch a red eye flight back to Chicago.  He will have another few “days off” for the second straight week before making his way to Atlanta & Carolina next weekend.
We would like to thank McFadden’s for providing a pregame meal, the Arizona Cardinals for providing tickets & New Era Cap for providing Cardinals caps for the Warriors.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
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We have now hosted warriors at 18 NFL games this season on our mission to honor heroes, keep legacies alive & provide once in a lifetime experiences at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season for our 4th consecutive year.  Follow the mission at www.warriorwishes.org

ARMY SGT MICHAEL SCHWARTZ

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Michael Schwartz was born in Phoenix and raised in Mesa for the first 21yrs of his life. He made the decision to join the Army back in 2001 and swore in on delayed entry on September 7, 2001. I was excited about my new career choice.  Just a few days later on  September 11, 2001, Michael knew there was a reason for his choice and that it was bigger than just him. He arrived to basic training on October 25, 2001 at FT. Knox and didn’t know the amount of craziness he was in for but says he would do it again in a heartbeat. 

After he graduated from basic training Michael was shipped over to FT. Bliss for his AIT and that is where he learned the basics of becoming a 14E, Patriot Missile Operator Maintainer. He completed a 6 month AIT training and received orders to Korea. Sgt Schwartz was stationed in Kunsan, Korea at Kunsan Air Base and that is where he spent the next 2 yrs of his career.  He was part of Echo Battery 3/43 and says it was one hell of a learning experience.

In 2004 and Schwartz was given orders to report to FT. Bliss again and was assigned to 5/52 HHB. That is where I spent the rest of his active duty career.

Michael joined the Arizona National Guard and learned how to become a 44C/36B, Financial Technician. He was part of the Guard from 2006 – 2012. During that time He was a part of many different missions and was also stationed on the border to assist the Border Patrol.

Sgt Schwartz is married to his wife, Amy, who he calls his rock & enjoys cheering on the Cardinals.  

ARMY LTC MICHAEL WARREN

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Lieutenant Colonel Michael Shaun Warren, age 51, died Wednesday April 29, 2015 after a long battle with cancer. LTC Warren is survived by his wife, Sheila, and five children Michael Warren, Jr., Jody Warren, Kevin Warren, Taylor Dennis, and Jackson Warren. Michael was a loving husband and adored father who enjoyed spending time with his family very much. LTC Warren was born July 24, 1963 in Phoenix, Arizona, the oldest of five sons born to Lillian Barbara (Rollins) Warren and Michael C. Warren. LTC Warren earned a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Arizona State University in 2001, and a Master of Military Art and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies in 2012. His military education includes the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, where he graduated as the Distinguished Honor Graduate, the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course, the Infantry Captain’s Career Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Command and General Staff College, and the Advanced Military Studies Program at the School of Advanced Military Studies. LTC Warren has been on active duty since 2003. He retired from the Tempe Police Department as a Sergeant with over 20 years of service in 2005. LTC Warren deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Afghanistan and Iraq Campaign Medals, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Arizona Distinguished Service Medal. LTC Warren’s hobbies included reading historical novels (his favorite topic was World War II), attending sporting events (he cheered for ASU, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Arizona Diamondbacks), riding his motorcycle, and vacationing with his family. National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Shaun Warren died at the end of April at the age of 51. He left behind his wife of 20 years and 5 beautiful children ages ranging from 9-29. From the age of 7 Michael dreamed of being in the United States Military. Michael spent his entire adult life serving his community and our country. He spent 20 years as a Police Officer for the City of Tempe, and had the privilege of living his life’s dream of being an Officer in the Military, where he was the Commander of a battalion in the Army National Guard. Over the 20 years he spent in the Army, he served in 2 deployments abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served his country with bravery and dedication, where he received numerous awards, and most recently had a scholarship named after him. Michael battled cancer for 2 years, and during that time he never waivered in his responsibility to his soldiers or country. Even after numerous surgeries and hospitalizations, Michael continued to work from home, and from the hospital. He was courageous to the end, and was respected by everyone he came in contact with. Michael was an avid sports fan and loved football. He obtained season tickets as soon as the Cardinals came to AZ, and enjoyed watching and attending all of the games he was able to. LTC Warren & his family were huge sports fans, and supported all of their local teams.

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After Michael passed, his family was forced to give up thier season tickets. Just before he passed he taught his 9 year old son, Jackson, to play NFL Madden, which is one of Jackson’s favorite memories of his father. We are honored to get the Warren Family back to a Cardinals game in Michael’s honor to share his love for the game of football, cheering on his favorite team, the Arizona Cardinals.

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Game 17 – Warrior Wishes Come True In San Diego

After making Warrior Wishes come true at 16 NFL games throughout the first 6 weeks of the season, my dad took a few “days off” to catch up on lost sleep and spent some quality time at home with the family.

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This week we’re packed our bags and headed out west to honor the legacy of LTC Heath Kelly & make Warrior Wishes come true for US Army SGT Jeff Selby, Marine CPL Shawn Collins at the San Diego Chargers game.
A few months ago I was able to score $34 airfare to Los Angeles. So Saturday night we flew to LA rented a car & drive a few hours south to San Diego.  Ironically the Car rental company upgraded our rental and gave us a Charger…
Sunday morning we met up with warriors for breakfast thanks to our friends at Whole Foods Market.
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 Whole foods market on university avenue in San Diego has been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true & supporting our mission since 2012!
After getting to know the Warriors & their families over breakfast, we fought an hour of traffic and eventually made our way over to Qualcomm stadium to tailgate with some Chargers ultimate fans.   It was an ultimate Chargers tailgate experience!
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The Warriors were treated to great seats 23 rows off the field thanks to Chargers Tight End, Antonio Gates & Safety, Jimmy Wilson!  Gates & Wilson donated their tickets to help us make these warrior wishes come true!
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Unfortunately the Raiders were too much for the Chargers to handle & lost the game, but everyone still had a great time!
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We would like to thank Whole Foods, the Bolt pride Tailgate, The San Diego Chargers, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Wilson  & New Era for helping us make these Warrior Wishes come true!
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My dad was able to spend a few hours hanging out with Xander after the game before jumping on an overnight bus to Phoenix to make more Wishes come true at the Arizona Cardinals game Monday night.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
MEET THE WARRIORS
 
LTC. Heath A Kelly
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LTC. Heath Austin Kelly was born on 20 May 1976 in Metairie, Louisiana.  He attended Military College in Vermont, and is a graduate of Norwich University.
Dually assigned as the Commander of the Nevada Military Department Joint Force Headquarters and the State Surface Maintenance Manager for the Office of the Director of Logistics, Major Kelly was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery upon graduation from Norwich University in May 1998.  He started his career with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery of the 2ND Battalion, 82ND Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, where he served as a Targeting Officer, Reconnaissance and Survey Officer, and Battalion Logistics Officer.  As a Captain he served as the Fire Support Officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17TH Field Artillery Battalion at Camp Stanley in the Republic of Korea and, in 2004, as a Security Force Action Officer for III Corps Artillery, Multi-National Forces Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.  
Appointed to the Nevada Army National Guard in July 2005, MAJ Kelly served as Detachment Commander for the 992ND Troop Command (Las Vegas), Commander of the 1864THTransportation Company (Las Vegas), Maintenance Management Officer for the Director of Logistics (Carson City), and as the Assistant Operations Officer and Operations Officer for the 991ST Troop Command (Reno).
LTC Heath Kelly was killed  on September 6, 2011. A mentally ill gunman walked into the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, NV that morning and opened fire. LTC Kelly and several of his military team members became innocent bystanders of that tragic day since they were all in uniforms.
“Heath’s love for the serving his country was unparalleled. He literally carried the Soldier’s Creed in his wallet and he believed whole heartedly that it was his purpose in life to serve and protect the country he loved so much” Says his wife.
LTC Kelly’s military decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with two Silver Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
LTC Kelly is survived by his wife Tracy, his daughter Kassidy, and his son Tristan.
CPL. Shawn Collins
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CPL Collins Enlisted in USMC in 2000-2004 and assigned to Camp Pendleton, CA.  He served in Light Armor Reconnaissance unit (1st LAR for the 1st Marine Division) as a crewman/gunner.  He has been deployed to Africa as a WESPAC mission in 2001 and then re-deployed to Afghanistan soon after.  Ensured security for supply deliveries and safety checks on military routes.  Deployed to Iraq in 2003 as the initial invasion force.  Conducted reconnaissance missions to ensure safe troop movements in hostile environments.  First to arrive at conflict/hostile locations to establish routes for troops to follow.  Rescued hostages from directed locations and recovered ammo caches from enemy troops.  Engaged enemy fire during hostile ambush.
Completed Marine Corps Rescue Swimmer school in 2002
Awards
Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Presidential Unit Citation
Combat Action Ribbons
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Army SGT Jeff Selby
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Sergeant Jeff Selby is a U.S. Army Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm Combat Veteran. He served proudly with the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade (Airborne) in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from September 1990 thru April 1991. Sergeant Selby played an integral role in the liberation of Kuwait, helping to drive out the Iraqi Army. Early in his career Sergeant Selby earned the parachutist badge becoming an Airborne Paratrooper. Sergeant Selby is the proud recipient of the following awards and medals. National Defense Service Ribbon, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 bronze service stars, Army Commendation Award and the Kuwait Liberation Medal. Sergeant Selbys valor and commitment to duty and excellence are in keeping with the finest military history and traditions.
Sergeant Selby is a 30% service connected disabled Veteran due to sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee during his career.

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Game 16 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Philly!

For the 2nd consecutive night, my dad found himself arriving at 30th street station in Philadelphia during the middle of the night.  With it being too late to get a hotel for the night he got a few hours of rest before finalizing his plans to make warrior wishes come true at the Eagles game.

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This was our 16th game of this season!  Today we had the pleasure of hosting Army SGT Gregory Hedrick & Marine Anthony Trzeciak at the Eagles game & make their warrior wishes come true!  (Meet the Warriors below)
Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Philly!
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My dad met up with SGT Hedrick at Eastern State Penitentiary to take a tour of the creepy old prison before the game.
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Eastern State Penitentiary is a very intimidating place.  With a Medieval castle appearance and 30 foot tall fortress walls surrounding the “Wagon-wheeled” shaped prison, it’s the perfect setting for a haunted house.  In fact, The prison is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the world.  3 years ago when we toured the prison we snapped this picture in death row, notice all the orbs surrounding us.  
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The prison opened in 1829, visitors from around the world marveled at its grand architecture (John Havilland) and radical philosophy. The experiment, to reform criminals through strict isolation, soon became a model for prison design world wide. An estimated 300 prisons on four continents are based on Eastern’s distinctive “wagon-wheel” floor plan. Once the most expensive building in the USA, Eastern State was finally abandoned in 1971 after 142 years in use. It is now a National Historic Landmark & a must do when visiting Philadelphia!
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Thankfully everyone made it out of the penitentiary without any ghostly encounters and they made their way over to Mcfadden’s by the stadium to meet Anthony & get a bite to eat before the game.
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McFadden’s Ballpark at Citizen’s Bank Park opened it’s doors for business in 2004 and has since become the go-to place for Philly Sports Fans. With 47 Hi-Def Plasma TV’s and 3 Giant Projector Screens, McFadden’s Ballpark has provided the perfect venue to get to know the Warriors before each game in Philly!
We had a little bit of time to tailgate with our philly friends before watching the Giants and Eagles kickoff The Monday night game.
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The Eagles gave the Warriors plenty to cheer about as they went on to beat the Giants by the score of 27-7!
We would like to thank Eastern State Penitentiary for providing the spooky tour of the prison, Mcfadden’s for providing a delicious meal before the game, Dan & Dave for the Shish Ka Bobs, our friend Ed Salomeh for donating tickets for the warriors, New Era for providing Eagles caps & most importantly we would like to thank Anthony & Greg for your selfless service & sacrifices for our country!
My dad will be taking this Thursday off to spend some time at home with the family before we head out to the west coast this weekend to make warrior wishes come true in San Diego & Arizona!
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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
MEET THE WARRIORS
ARMY SGT GREGORY HEDRICK
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SGT Gregory Hedrick was born & raised in Philadelphia.  He joined the Army in Dec of 2003 & Served a total of 11 years! 2 Iraq tours and one to Afghanistan.

On September 20th 2012, while serving in Afghanistan, Greg was injured when an armor piercing RPG struck his truck. resulting in the loss of his left leg and the loss of 3 fingers on his left hand. Sgt Hedrick spent over 2 years at Walter Reed recovering from his injuries.  

Saying Greg is a huge Eagles fan is an understatement.  He is the biggest Eagles fan we have ever met!

Greg is married and has 3 boys that keep him busy.  He was medically retired from the Army this past February.

MARINE ANTHONY TRZECIAK

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Anthony joined the United States Marine Corps In January 2008.  He deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and shortly after returning home he deployed again on a humanitarian mission to Haiti to aid with the Earthquake. 

In March of 2011 Trzeciak deployed to Afghanistan for a seven month combat deployment. He was on a motor convoy when his vehicle was struck by an I.E.D and severely injured his back.  Upon his return home Anthony became paralyzed from the waist down.

Trzeciak now enjoys spending time with his wife and son, who was born while Anthony was deployed in Afghanistan.

Anthony works every day on building his strength and staying as healthy as he can.  His wife, who is his full time caregiver, are expecting their second child in January of 2016. Anthony & his family are planning to move to Tampa, Florida so He can receive physical therapy from the VA facility.

It was an honor to make these Warrior Wishes come true!

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Game 15 – Warrior Wishes Come True In New York!

My dad had the opportunity to hang out at home with X-man between making warrior wishes come true Thursday night in New Orleans & flying out for the weekend to host heroes in New York Sunday & Philadelphia on Monday.

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Saturday evening my dad flew to Philadelphia for $21 then hopped on a $1 megabus to New York to catch a $10 train to the meadowlands in New Jersey for the Sunday afternoon Jets game.  It was a round about way to get there but it saved us a lot of money which helps us make more warrior wishes come true in the future.
Today we had the honor of hosting Army warriors Andrew Rivera, Bryan Dilberian & Kevin Dilberian at the Jets game thanks to our friends at Manhattan Beer Distributors.
(“Meet the Warriors” below)
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Over the past thirty-five years, Manhattan Beer Distributors has strived to become the premier full-service beverage company in Metro New York. Manhattan Beer Distributors sponsored both of our New York missions giving us the opportunity to provide unforgettable once in a lifetime experiences at both Jets & Giants games thanks to their generosity!
Here are some of our favorite memories from the past 3 years making warrior wishes come true at the Jets games.
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Earlier this week we received an email from a guy named Joe who offered to host us & the Warriors at his “L7 tailgate.”  The L7 parking lot, has become the largest and most recognizable tailgate at Jets games in recent years.  Jets owner, Woody Johnson, even made his way over to the tailgate to thank the warriors for their service!  Joe & the L7 tailgaters went above and beyond to help us give the Warriors an ultimate Jets tailgate experience & we can’t thank them enough!
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The Warriors enjoyed excellent seats and got to watch the Jets win up close from just a few rows deep in the end zone thanks to the generosity of Manhattan Beer distributors.
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After thanking the Warriors one last time, my dad hopped back on the train to New York City to catch his $1 bus ride back to Philadelphia to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Monday night Eagles game.
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Warrior Wishes came true in New York thanks to Manhattan Beer Distributors, the L7 tailgate crew & New Era Caps!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
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Game 14 – Warrior Wishes Come True In New Orleans!

So far this season we have made Warrior Wishes come true at 13 NFL games through the first 5 weeks of the season!  Its been an honor to have met all the warriors & Gold star families, hear their stories & show them that their service and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.  We are truly thankful for them and everyone who has helped support our mission along the way.

For $19.99, My dad flew from Chicago to Atlanta Wednesday night to catch a $1 overnight bus to New Orleans where we kicked off week 6 in the “Big Easy” making Warrior Wishes come true at the Saints game.

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Here are some of our favorite memories of making Warrior Wishes come true in New Orleans.

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Today we had the honor of hosting Army Warriors Jeremiah Christy, Felix Jackson & Navy Warrior Brandon Tabor. (Meet the Warriors below)

My dad met up with Jeremiah, his mom & Cookie Dalgo (our 2013 Saints guest) at the Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in La Place, LA before the game.  The swamp tour is a MUST DO when visiting New Orleans.

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Cajun Pride Swamp Tours is a privately owned wildlife refuge just 25 miles from New Orleans.  The unique authentic swamp tour takes you down a privately owned swamp & ensures that your narrated tour will not be disturbed by other boats.  Their native Cajun Captains are all natural…homegrown in the Bayous of South Louisiana. With accents and humor they will take you back to the early days of Louisiana bayou and swamp explorations through the primitive beauty of the moss-draped cypress trees and show off the American Alligator and abundant wildlife.  Experience gators up-close in their natural habitat, but watch out for “big boy”!  It’s an experience you will never forget!

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After the Swamp tour with the warriors, we made our way back downtown for dinner & met up with Felix & Brandon at the Pelican bar located inside the Sheraton Hotel just a few blocks away from the stadium.  Named in honor of Louisiana’s most visible symbol and state bird, the Pelican Bar is reminiscent of a French Quarter courtyard with its magnificent tiered fountain, lavish landscaping and hand detailed wrought iron.  It was the perfect place to unwind and embrace the ambiance of New Orleans while getting the know the warriors.

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Our friend Ben AKA Cyborg Saint, (a member of the PFUFA) went above and beyond to help us honor the warriors in NOLA.  Not only did he host us at his tailgate, but he also gave each warrior an autographed football signed by the entire 2014 Saints team & reached out to his network of friends to let them know about our mission and they donated their tickets to the warriors for the game.  We cannot thank them enough for their generosity and support!

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The warriors were treated to some of the best seats in the house surrounded by some of the Saints most passionate friends thanks to Ben & and his friends.  The 1-4 Saints surprised everyone when they went on to beat the undefeated Falcons!  The win was the icing on the cake of a great day filled with warrior wishes coming true!

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We would like to thank Cajun Pride Swamp tours for providing an unforgettable Swamp experience, The Pelican Bar at the Sheraton New Orleans for providing Dinner before the game, Ben and all of his friends who donated their time and tickets to help us make the warriors experience special, New Era for providing Saints Caps for the warriors & most importantly we would like to thank Jeremiah, Ben & Felix for their service & sacrifices.

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

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My Dad Will be flying back to Chicago for a day before heading out to New York & Philadelphia to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Jets & Eagles games this weekend.

MEET THE WARRIORS

NAVY WARRIOR BRANDON TABER

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Brandon Taber was born in South Bend, Indiana.  He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1996 & completed 7 deployments including 2 in Afghanistan over his 16 year military career. Brian was medically retired in 2012 and currently resides in Pensacola, Florida.

ARMY SFC JEREMIAH CHRISTY

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SFC Christy enlisted in the Army on 05 January 1999 as an E-1. Attended basic training at Fort Jackson SC. Upon graduation he was transferred to Fort Eustis for AIT training to become an Aircraft Powertrain repair man.

Christy was transferred to 1st Squadron 4th Cauvery from 1999 to 2002. Then to Fort Hood 404 Division Aviation Support Battalion from 2002 to 2005 during which he was deployed to Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004 for the invasion of the war.

In January 2005 he left active duty and joined the Army Reserves assigned to the 3rdBattalion 348th infantry regiment. He was mobilized from 2007 to 2012 in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2010 he reclassed to a Combat Medic. He is currently serving as a Platoon Sargent.

ARMY WARRIOR FELIX JACKSON

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Felix served in the United States Army for 17 years!

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Game 13 – Warrior Wishes Come True in Dallas!

After hosting warriors at the 12th NFL game of our 2015 “All32in17” mission in Houston & spending a few days Chiving on in Austin, it was time to get back to work & make Warrior Wishes come true in Dallas!

I had dropped my dad off at the bus station in Houston to catch his $1 overnight bus to Dallas before heading back to Chicago with the family.
My dad arrived around 1am and stayed up all night getting everything ready to host warriors at the Dallas Cowboys game for our 13th game this season!
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Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Dallas over the past 3 years.
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We had the honor of hosting Army SPC Michael Wells, Army SPC Amber Wells & Army SGT Bobby Henline at today’s game.  (meet the warriors below).
We kicked off the day & met up with the warriors at the Cowboys PFUFA Ultimate Tailgate.  Over the past few years our friends at this tailgate have hosted us & truly helped us make each warriors experience special.  Plus this year they went above and beyond by raising $400 to make more Warrior Wishes come true!  We are thankful for their hospitality & generosity!
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As I mentioned in our Seattle post, a lot of people ask us what stadium is the best in the NFL? The answer is simple.  AT&T stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is in a league of its own.
With Tony Romo & Dez Bryant sidelined due to injuries, the Cowboys had a difficult matchup ahead of them.  The undefeated New England Patriots were in town & hungry for another win.
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The Cowboys were able to keep Rob Gronkowski contained for much of the game, but Tom Brady & his high powered offense were too much for the Cowboys to handle.  The Patriots went on to win by the score of 30-6.
Despite the loss, the warriors had a great time & we were just getting started.  A friend of ours works for the Cowboys & was able to get us 6 Landry Room passes. On top of the warriors we had hosted at the game, we also met up with Marines Omar Milan & Harry Duffy as well as Army Warrior Julio Marin to host them in the Landry room as well.
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The Landry Room is one of the most unique characteristics of AT&T stadium.  It’s a luxurious room with couches, a full service bar & lots of delicious food.  Most of the players meet up with their family members after the game in the Landry room.
Cowboys Jason Witten, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, Tyler Clutts, Nick Hayden, Lucky Whitehead, Demarcus Lawrence, Jason Garrett & Hall of Famer Charles Haley all took the time to take pictures, sign autographs & show these warriors their appreciation for their service & sacrifices!  It was an unforgettable experience!
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We would like to thank the PFUFA Cowboys Ultimate fans for hosting us at your tailgate & raising money to continue our mission, New Era Caps for providing Cowboys Caps for all the warriors & our friend Brett from the Cowboys for helping us secure tickets to the game & providing the Landry room passes.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
So far this season my dad has been spoiled & only taken a handful of busses, but things are about to change.  We do everything we can to keep travel costs down so we can make more warrior wishes come true.    Over the next few weeks my dad will be riding the bus a lot!  Staring with a 18 hour bus ride from Dallas to Chicago.
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He will have a few days to hang out with us back here in Chicago before heading out to Atlanta to catch a bus to New Orleans for the Thursday night game later this week
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MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SSG BOBBY HENLINE

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A veteran of Desert Storm by age 19, Bobby was inspired to re-enlist in the Army after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. He deployed to Iraq three times with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 3rd Armored Calvary regiment. On April 7th, 2007, tragedy struck when Bobby’s Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb just north of Bagdad. Of five men in the vehicle, Bobby was the only survivor. More than 38 percent of his body was burned and his head was burned to the skull; he spent six months in the hospital fighting for his life, and within two years Bobby’s left hand was amputated. To date, he has had more than 40 surgeries.

In August, 2009 Bobby pinky swore with his occupational therapist that he would try stand-up comedy in Los Angeles while he was in town for a doctor’s visit. Shortly thereafter, during an open mic night at the Comedy Store, the “Well-Done Comedian” was born. Bobby believes that God kept him alive for a reason. He believes his mission is to help create awareness for burn survivors, to inspire people to live life to the fullest, and to heal others through his story and laughter. Bobby’s self-deprecating comedic style will leave you in stitches and will burn in your heart forever.

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Bobby has also proved to be a gifted motivational speaker, using his own experiences as a way to add perspective and bring inspiration to people’s lives. Bobby has been asked to speak with companies, individuals and non-profit organizations. Testimonials from those who have heard Bobby provide a sense of the lasting aura he projects.

Bobby lives in San Antonio, TX
He performs regularly at the Laugh Out Loud and River Center Comedy Clubs in San Antonio, and has also performed at Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale, CA. The Comedy Zone in Fayetteville, NC. and in Las Vegas at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club.

Get inspired by Bobby & follow him on Facebook here

Watch his story below

ARMY WARRIOR MICHAEL WELLS

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Michael joined the Army right out of high school. His MOS was 19K, M1A1 Abrams Tanker. He was stationed in Baumholder, Germany and Friedberg, Germany. Wells was injured by a mortar blast during his second deployment to Iraq, in Ramadi. He also suffers from PTSD.  He currently works with a local rescue to train service dogs for other Veterans as a form of therapy.
ARMY WARRIOR AMBER WELLS
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Amber is Michael’s wife.  She actually nominated her husband for the Cowboys game and we learned that she too had served in the Army.  Amber joined the Army in 2009 as a 68W, Medic. She was stationed at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio and then PCS’d to Ft. Gordon, Georgia, where she met her husband, Mike.
It truly was an honor to host these warriors at the Cowboys game to thank them for their service & sacrifices.  We will see you in New Orleans Thursday!

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Game 12 – Warrior Wishes Come True in Houston!

My dad took a day off in between coming home from Seattle and taking off to Houston to make Warrior Wishes come true at the 12th game of our 2015 mission to honor Warriors by hosting them at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th year in a row!

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Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Houston.

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This game was special, I had the opportunity to bring X-man along with us and we had 3 generations making warrior wishes come true!  So I thought…  I was hoping to have Xander come to the game with us, but underestimated a few things.  One, traveling with a 2 year old is way more difficult than I had expected, and Two, there was a lot of traffic in the Houston area.
Melissa, Xander and I arrived the day before my dad to explore Houston.  We met up with my dad on Thursday afternoon to visit the Children’s museum, which is a must do in Houston if you have kids.
After the museum we made our way over to Joe’s Crab Shack by the stadium to meet up with the warriors for dinner.
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We were honored to be hosting Army Sgt Juan Carlos Vasquez & Army SSG Shilo Harris at the Texans game. “Meet the Warriors” Below
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I dropped everyone off at NRG stadium, with the intentions of dropping Melissa off at the hotel & coming back, but due to traffic didn’t make it back in time.  But that didn’t keep the guys from having a great time tailgating with the “End Zone King” and watching the Texans!
Unfortunately the Texans couldn’t pull out the victory and the Colts won by the score of 13-10.  Before the game had ended I had made my way back over to the stadioum to meet up with everyone and pick up my dad.  Everyone had a great time at the game despite the loss.
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We would like to thank Joe’s Crab Shack for hosting us for dinner, Dave “The End Zone King” & everyone at his tailgate for inviting us to join them for some pregame fun, New Era for providing Texans caps for each of the Warriors & the Westin Hotel Houston Memorial City for providing accommodations.  Most importantly, we would like to thank Shilo & Carlos for their service, their sacrifices, and for never giving up!  These guys are true inspirations & we were honored to host them at the Texans game!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SGT JUAN CARLOS VASQUEZ

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Sgt. Vasquez, Juan Carlos (retired) joined the Army in May of 2008.  His MOS was 12B (combat engineer).  Sgt Vasquez deployed twice to Iraq in Jan ’09 – Dec ’09 and Jan’11 – July’11 & was on his third deployment, first to Afghanistan during May ’13 – Aug ’13, where he got seriously injured when a deep buried IED exploded under the vehicle he was in. Juan Carlos was medically evacuated to Germany then sent to San Antonio, Texas to recover. While in Germany he underwent a 13 hour surgery on his lower back.

At San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) he endured multiple surgeries to try & save his right leg, which eventually got amputated below the knee due to a severe infection. Sgt Vasquez’ right scapula (shoulder) was also broken but the doctors decided to not operate on it and let it heal on its own. A big area of his lower lip was missing and had to be sewn together right after the explosion. Juan Carlos planned to make a career out of the military, but due to his injuries he was medically retired in Dec ’15.

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Vasquez is now taking college classes with an end goal of becoming a middle school counselor in the future.  Juan Carlos was a huge Texans fan and an even bigger inspiration.  He is a man who never gives up & pushes himself to get better every day.  It was an honor to host him & we are thankful for his service & sacrifices.

ARMY SSG SHILO HARRIS

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We had the honor of meeting Shilo over the summer when we hosted him & his kids at an Astros game on our “Battlefields to Ballfields mission.  Shilo has seriously been thru hell & back.  But after all he has been thru he is thanful to be alive, lives every day to the fullest and is one of the most inspiring men we have ever met.

Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris’ Humvee hit an IED while on patrol in Iraq in February of 2007. In that blast he lost his ears, part of his nose, some fingers and over a third of the skin on his body. He also lost three of his best friends. What followed was an agonizing road to recovery, which began with nearly two months in a medically induced coma. During that time he experienced a version of hell so terrifying, the memories still haunt him today. Harris shares his inspiring story in his memoir, Steel Will: My Journey Through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to Be

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“I am a man who has lived through hell. It is hard to share this experience. The carnage. The devastation. The loss. But I will do it. Because I will always know the horrors of war,” says Harris. “I will tell you what an explosion does to you on the outside. And I will tell you what an explosion does to you on the inside. And I will demonstrate what it means to live fearlessly, with a clear understanding of the Grace that can redeem mayhem.”

Shilo is now a motivational speaker.  He hopes his story can help change the lives of others.  To learn more about Shilo, Book him to speak at a future event or buy his book visit www.shiloharris.com or click on the Book below.  It was an honor to host him at his first ever Texans game & make his Wish Come True.  We cannot thank him enough for his service, sacrifices & for never giving up!

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After the game, on Friday morning, Melissa, my dad, Xander & I took a short drive to see what Austin was all about.  We had heard great things & wanted to experience Austin for ourselves.
Our Austin experience didn’t start out too fun, we got there late because I thought the rental car only took e85 gas so I spent an hour driving around looking for a gas station to find it, just to realize that it’s a flex fuel vehicle that takes regular gas too, then as we pulled into town we saw a fight on the streets and finally we waited over an hour for our food order before leaving the restaurant because they had forgot to put our order in.  However, they did make up for it and ran our order out to us as we were leaving, so we took it to go.
Needless to say it was a little frustrating way to start the day.  We found ourselves a table by the river to eat & realized that we were sitting at a table directly in front of “TheChive” offices.  As we scarfed down our food, 2 guys who worked for the chive came out for a “ping pong break.”  I saw a few stray ping pong balls near our table and delivered them to the guys playing.  I also introduced myself and told them about our mission.  The next thing we knew, we were invited inside to take a tour of the offices & sliding down their office slide inside.
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It made the day a whole lot better and reminded us that when you get stressed out, sometimes you need to just Keep Calm & Chive On.
Later that night, G-pa (My Dad) watched Xander so Melissa & I could go out for dinner and grab a few drinks with our friends who helped put together our documentary.
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We walked up & down 6th street looking for a good restaurant.  We finally settled on a place called the Iron Cactus.  As we were just about to finish up, Melissa noticed a guy sitting behind me wearing a KIA bracelet like the one I wear every day to remind me of the sacrifices brave men & women have made to give us our freedoms.
As I got up to leave, I asked the gentleman if he had served.  He replied no, my brother did.  I instantly put two and two together and realized his brother had made the ultimate sacrifice.  I thanked him for his family’s service and sacrifice, shared our mission with him and gave him an open invitation to join us at a future game of his choice.
Seeing that we were in Austin, home of theChive I couldn’t help but do a RAK (Random Act of Kindness).  Before we left the restaurant & met up with our friends, I paid for his meal to remind him that his brother’s service & his family’s sacrifice has not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten.  We encourage everyone reading this to find a way to do a random act of kindness today & remember, just a smile can make someones day.
I dropped my dad off at the Houston bus station to catch his $1 ride to Dallas before heading to the airport with Melissa & Xander to fly back home to Chicago.  My dad will be in Dallas on Sunday making Warrior Wishes come true at our 13th NFL game on our 2015 All32in17 Mission to honor heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season.
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Game 11 – Warrior Wishes Come True in Seattle!

After making warrior wishes come true in Denver & sleeping in the Denver airport for his 2nd straight night, my dad was on an early morning flight to Seattle to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Seahawks game at the 11th game of our 2015 mission.

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Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Seattle.

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Since we have been to all 32 NFL stadiums, a lot of people ask us what stadium we like the best?  Dallas is in a league of its own, but CenturyLink field in Seattle is one of the coolest stadiums out there!  The fans are intense, the weather is perfect for football & there is no better view than looking at the “Hawks Nest” with the Seattle city skyline in the background.

Today we hosted Navy Warrior Aaron Vandersnick & Army Ranger Matthew Wilson at the game.  “Meet the Warriors” Below

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The Seahawks won the game 13-10 on an incredible play by Kam Chancellor, who knocked the ball out of Calvin Johnson’s arm just inches before he crossed the Goal line.  It was an incredible way to end an incredible day.

We would like to thank whole foods westlake for providing gift cards to the warriors, Sky City for offering to host the Warriors for dinner in the space needle, New Era Caps for providing Seahawks Caps & Deshawn Shead, DB for the Seahawks, for helping us secure great tickets for the game!

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Immediately flying the game, my dad headed back to the airport to catch a red eye back to Chicago before heading out to Texas on Thursday for the 12th game of our 2015 Mission.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

NAVY GM2 (SW) AARON VANDERSNICK

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Aaron joined the Navy in 1997 and served as a Gunner’s Mate MK-41 VLS technician aboard the guided-missle cruiser, USS Lake Champlain (CG-57).

Stationed in San Diego, CA, he was deployed to the Western Pacific in 1999. As a member of a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) team, he participated in anti-piracy/smuggling activities in the Arabian Gulf–boarding and inspecting vessels for illegal arms, oil, and contraband.

Aaron now lives in Washington State. An alum of Western Washington University, he is married to his college sweetheart, Laura, and they are expecting their first child in early December 2015.

ARMY AIRBORNE RANGER MATTHEW WILSON

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Served as an Army Airborne Ranger from April 2001-January 2006

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Game 10 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

After making Warrior Wishes come true in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, my dad flew home to Chicago for just a few hours before heading back to the airport and takinging off to Denver to make Warrior Wishes come true in the Mile High City!

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Over the past 3 years we have made some amazing memories making Warrior Wishes come true at Broncos games.

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Today we were honored to host Marine SSGT Randy Hulse, Army SGT Franz Walkup & Army SGT Jason Watkins at the 10th game of our 2015 “All32in17” mission to honor military warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th straight year! (Read the warrior’s Bios below)

My dad got a good night sleep at the Denver airport while the Warriors got a great night sleep thanks to our friends at the Westin Downtown Denver.  The luxurious Westin Was Located just one mile from Sports Authority Field at Mile High, & in the heart of the action on the famous 16th Street Mall in the core of downtown.

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The guys met up before the game for a delicious lunch thanks to Elway’s restaurant.  Located in the heart the Mile High City, Elway’s Downtown was the perfect place to have lunch before a Broncos game.  There was John Elway’s memorabilia throughout the restaurant & plenty of tv’s to watch the early games.  Their menu boasts USDA Prime, hand-cut steaks, Colorado Lamb, raw bar selections with fin fish, crustaceans and much more.

After lunch the Warriors got a big surprise from the Denver fire department & were escorted to the game on a fire truck!

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This was each of the Warriors first Broncos game ever!  Unfortunately tickets for the Broncos game were extremely expensive, so the seats were not the best, but there really isn’t a bad seat in the stadium.  Plus When you sit in the upper deck of Mile High stadium you can literally feel the ground shake beneath your feet.  It’s an awesome experience!

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The Broncos were able to hold off the surging Vikings and won the game by the score of 23-20.

We would like to thank Westin Denver Downtown for providing accommodations, Elway’s for providing a delicious meal before the game, the Denver fire department for providing transportation to & from the game & New Era for providing Broncos caps to all the warriors.  Most importantly we want to thank these brave warriors for their service & sacrifices!

My dad is headed back to the airport to sleep for his 2nd straight night and will be catching an early morning flight to Seattle to make warrior wishes come true at the Monday Night Seahawks game for the 11th game of our 2015 Mission to honor warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th year in a row.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

Marine SSGT Randy Hulse

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Randy was nominated to us by friends of his from Indianapolis.  So when my dad was in Indy making warrior wishes come true 2 weeks ago, he surprised Randy with the opportunity to see his first ever Broncos game!  Randy was almost in tears when he learned he was nominated for the game & his warrior Wish was going to come true!

Randy’s story begins when he graduated high school in 1983. He turned down a football scholarship to Nebraska in order to join the military and serve his country. It was his dream to be a Marine. Randy served 14 years in the Marine Corp before leaving the service to focus on his family. After the attacks of 9-11, Randy was pulled between a six figure manager position and re-enlisting. He gave up the manager position and joined the Army to live his dream of becoming a combat medic. At the age of 42, he accomplished that goal and planned to make the military his career. Unfortunately, a severe injury made him hang up his boots for good.

18 years of military service, and 7 deployments later, Randy still wanted to help people. While being processed out of the Army in Knoxville he became an EMT and drove an ambulance for several years. Then he moved to Colorado (a huge Broncos fan) and worked as a civilian driving the ambulance for an Army hospital.

Army SGT Franz Walkup

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Franz Walkup’s brother, Army 1st LT Frank B Walkup IV, made the ultimate sacrifice in June of 2007 while serving in Iraq. After his older brother passed, Franz was inspired to join the military.

On September 29th, While deployed in Afghanistan, Franz was shot 5 times by Afghan National Army soldiers that turned on US forces.

Sgt Walkup spent time recovering at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Bethesda, MD. He has endured over 7o surgeries and had to have one of his legs ampitated.  Franz works hard every day to heal and won’t stop until he is able to walk again.

Sgt Walkup wants to to lead, inspire and train other soldiers.  He has never given up and continues to strive for the future with his wife and two dogs. After being turned down by many home-building organizations and being told he’s not wounded enough, Franz was finally approved by the VA for an adaptive grant of nearly $70,000 to help build the adaptive home so his wheelchair can easily move around.

Walkup also raised money through fundraisers and other organizations that assist wounded warriors.  nearly two dozen non-profits and businesses are making his adaptive home become a reality. The Gary Sinise Foundation, through its Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program, has taken the lead.  Franz was recenly on Ellen sharing his inspiring story and road to recovery. He is an inspiration.  His never give up attitude is contagious and we were honored to host him at his first ever Denver Broncos game!

Army Medevac Pilot Jason Watkins

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Jason has proudly served our country in the Army for the past 12 years.  He has Deployed 3 times, twice to Iraq, once to Afghanistan.  In 2004 Watkins Graduated from Air Assault school & continued his education attending flight school in 2010.  Jason is currently stationed at Fort Riley and now Fort Carson as a Blackhawk pilot.

2 years ago, Operation Warrior Wishes mailed care packages to warriors serving in Afghanistan.  Jason was one of those warriors.  In the care package was an invitation to join us to a game & Jason took us up on our offer before he heads out on his next deployment.

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It was an honor to host Jason, Franz & Randy and show them that their service and sacrifices are appreciated and have not gone unnoticed!

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Game 9 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Chicago!  Again.

While my dad was in Denver getting ready to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Broncos game, I was back home in Chicago hosting Warriors at Soldier field for the Bears game.  Today I had the honor of meeting up with Army SGT Ron Hinkle & Marine Francisco Zapata. (See their bios below).

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Ron drove overnight from Kentucky to be at the game.  He was nominated by his wife, who told us that Ron is a huge Raiders fan!  Since the Bears happened to be playing the Raiders we invited him to join us at the game to make his warrior wish come true.

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 We met up with Ron & Francisco in the 31st street tailgate lot by McCormick place.  Thanks to our friends at Da Bus, Da Coach & Kingsford Kirk, we had the opportunity to tailgate with some of the wildest & crazy Raiders & Bears fans in the city!

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One of my favorite moments from the tailgate was getting to hang out with former Chicago Bear Running Back Garrett Wolfe.  Garrett was a really cool guy and took time to get to know Francisco & learn a little bit about what it takes to be a marine.    About an hour before kickoff we started to make our way over to the stadium.  I walked the Warriors to the front of the stadium before handing them their tickets, taking a few quick pictures & thanking them again for their service & sacrifices.    As I made my way back to my car, the guys headed inside to watch the Raiders take on the winless Chicago Bears.

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The Warriors got to watch the game from our 4th row season tickets in the upper deck.  With Cutler back under center the Bears were finally able to score some points.  It appeared that a blocked extra point early in the game was going to be the difference maker & give the Raiders the win.  But cutler & the Bears drove down the field with under 2 minutes to play & set up a game winning field goal attempt with 2 seconds left in the game!

The kick was up & GOOD!  Robbie Gould redeemed himself & the Bears won their first game of the season!

As the Bears game ended, my dad was about to kicking things off in Denver.  Stay tuned for the Warriors inspirational stories.

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We would like to thank the Courtyard Marriott of St.Charles for providing accommodations, New Era Caps for providing The Bears & Raiders Caps & The tailgate crew at Da Bus, Kingsford Kirk, Garrett Wolfe & Da Coach for hosting us & helping us make these Warrior Wishes come true!

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

Marine Francisco Zapata 

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Francisco Zapata joined the Marine Corps in 2004 as an Infantryman and served three deployments in Iraq.  He married my high school sweetheart and is a proud dad of three daughters.

Zapata currently works as an operator with a box company.  He enjoys playing golf & watching Chicago sports.  The Bears are at the top of his list.

Army SGT Ron Hinkle

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Ron served with the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment. During his deployment, with the 1-8th Infantry, Ron was a Tanker and gunner on the Humvee.  & is now medically retired due to injuries sustained in combat.  

On 15 Apr 2006, SPC Hinkle as a gunner was hit by an IED that was detonated next to his Humvee resulting in hearing loss, perforation to the left ear drum, shrapnel wounds, multiple emboli present in both lungs, internal damage to right shoulder, infections- MRSA & pneumonia, respiratory, renal and cardiac failures. He was Honorably Medically Retired. 

Ron spent 49 days in a coma and the next 18 months in inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation therapy to regain full capability of daily life. Ron was exposed to multiple IEDs, resulting in a moderate traumatic brain injury (MTBI) with loss of consciousness, as well as sustaining shrapnel wounds, which resulted in the lose use of his left lung, has shrapnel that still remains within is upper extremities and at the stem of his brainPermanent nerve damage in his right shoulder, hand and both lower legsRon is now 100% disabled

Ron currently lives on a small farm in Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, his mother-in-law and future son-in-law. He spends his days overseeing the daily operations of the family farm and fishing the families’ pond.  Ron was an avid outdoorsman prior to injuries. In the years that followed Ron’s deployment, Ron and his family have had to learn to cope with the impact of MTBI, and PTSD, two invisible injuries of war, a seizure disorder and memory loss along with the physical injuries sustained from Combat. 

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SGT Hinkle’s decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, , Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart- which he received from the Vice President of the United  States in November 2006, Four Army Commendation Medals 1 with Valor, Three Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, One Overseas Service Ribbons, and NATO Medal (Kosovo).

Ron has been an avid Raiders fan his entire life & has never had the opportunity to see them play in person.  His wife nominated him & it was an honor to make his Warrior Wish come true at our 9th game of the season on our mission to honor military warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season!

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