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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Army SGT Ron Hinkle
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 brain. Permanent nerve damage in his right shoulder, hand and both lower legs. Ron 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.
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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