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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