Not many people can say that their first NFL game ever is a thrilling AFC Championship game in which your favorite team wins and goes to the Super Bowl. However, Operation Warrior Wishes is extremely proud to have provided that very experience for 82nd Airborne Army SFC Nicholas Dighans and his wife, Holli.
We started this experience on Thursday Night when we surprised this 14 year, 5 deployment wounded veteran -with the help of Holli & his favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse.
We set up a dinner with their friends in their hometown Bozeman, Montana. At dinner, Nick got a phone call from “a radio station” (us) to win free dinner. Not only did he win dinner but when told he was going to Broncos game Sunday, replied “Is this a joke ?”
Well it was no joke. Saturday morning SFC Dighans & his wife made the 8 hour drive to Denver & got a good night sleep, thanks to our friends at the luxurious Westin Westminster hotel, before their big day.
I was able to score $19 airfare from Chicago to Denver 3 weeks ago with the hopes that Denver would make it to the AFC Championship game. And thankfully they did. So for less than $20 my dad flew to Denver Saturday nightto make SFC Dighans warrior wish come true.
Of course, he slept at the airport upon arrival in Denver to rest up for the day. Sunday morning, my dad met up with SFC Dighans for a delicious brunch thanks to Elways restaurant.
From there they headed to Sports Authority Field aka “Mile High” to tailgate before watching the Broncos & Patriots face off for a conference championship & a trip to San Francisco to play in the Super Bowl!
Not many people gave the Broncos a chance against Tom Brady & the Pats. The Patriots were the clear favorite and the aging Peyton Manning had clearly lost a step over the years. But in the NFL anything can happen on any given Sunday.
As SFC Dighans & his wife made their way in the stadium, my dad made friends with tailgaters in the parking lot to watch the game.
The battle between Manning & Brady was underway. Manning & the Broncos controlled the game. The Broncos Defense kept Brady in check much of the game.
The Broncos were up by 8 late in the 4th quarter. Brady connected with Gronkowski on a 4th & long to keep their season alive. Just a few plays later connected with him again, this time in the end zone! Down 2, because of an early missed extra point, the Pats were forced into going for a dramatic 2 point conversion attempt.
Brady took the snap & fired a pass over the middle to Edelman. The ball was tipped into the air & intercepted! Mile High stadium erupted into cheers and was literally rocking! SFC Dighans & Broncos fans worldwide celebrated the victory as their team was headed to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco!!!
After the game my dad met back up with Nick & his wife outside the stadium by the players tunnel to celebrate the victory with the team. Von Miller ran out & high fived all the fans!
The Dighans thanked us for the once in a lifetime experience & made their way back to the hotel. My dad made his way back to the airport. He had to catch a 7am flight to Dallas, that I booked for $36, to make warrior wishes come true at Monday nights Dallas Stars game!
We would like to thank The Westin Westminster hotel for providing SFC Dighans with luxurious accommodations, Elway’s Downtown for providing a delicious lunch before the game, Outback Steakhouse for helping us surprise Nick with this opportunity & New Era Cap for providing Broncos caps! Most importantly, thanks to SFC Dighans for your service & sacrifices to our country!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Next stop Super Bowl 50!!!
SFC NICHOLAS DIGHANS
SFC (Ret.) Nick Dighans from Belgrade, Montana served in the U.S Army for 14.5 years before being medically retired. He left for basic training right after graduating high school to follow in his father’s footsteps of serving our country. During his time in service he completed 5 combat tours ( 3 to Iraq, 2 to Afghanistan) & earned numerous awards including 2 bronze stars. He always believed that he would do a full 20 year + career in the army because that is where he belonged but unfortunately his numerous combat tours took their toll resulting in his early medical retirement. He now lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife and two daughters spending his time fly fishing and enjoying his family.