My dad flew to San Fran to Chicago first thing Tuesday morning for $29! Our friend Lou picked him up at the airport and allowed him to stay at his house to help us save money for our mission. Lou became a fast friend in 2012 after he saw our story on ESPN. He & his friends have been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true in San Francisco ever since!
My dad & Lou attended a few events before I arrived Thursday morning, including Super Bowl City and NFL Experience. They picked me up from the airport & it was non stop from that point on.
Lou let us use his Tahoe to get around all week. After dropping him back off at work, my dad & I headed right back to the airport to pick up Army Master SGT Cedric King.
Cedric had tickets to the big game, but no transportation. Knowing how big of a Panthers fan he is, we helped make his warrior wish come true by flying him out to San Francisco so he could see his Panthers play in Super Bowl 50!
We had a bite to eat with Cedric’s friends & stopped to take some pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and some incredible waves at Half Moon Bay ( site of many surfing competitions )before dressing up to hit the town and make warrior wishes come true.
Due to the number of events scheduled and number of warriors we were hosting, My dad & I ended up splitting up Thurs night to accommodate 3 separate events – in fact we have a total of 23 warriors attending 11 different events plus the game itself this week.
So While my Dad hosted Army Cpl. Wesley Barrientos, Army SGT Brian Jergens & Marine Julio Torres as VIP guests to the Legends for Charity Dinner and then to the MaddenBowl, I ended up being Cedric’s guest to Jim Brown’s 80th birthday party!
After Legends for Charity Dinner honoring John Madden, ironically my dad and his guys headed to the Madden Bowl which was in no way connected other than by the iconic name .
Everyone had a fantastic time and we learned that Ludacris and Too Short (the musical performers) were Among Wes and Julio favorites, while Brian “crashed the stage” – working his way through the crowd (with a little help from my dad) to get to the very front and center with his arms up trying to high 5 the singers.
While They were having a great time at the MaddenBowl, I was celebrating Cleveland Browns Legend, Jim Brown’s 80th birthday with Army Master SGT Cedric King.
The highlight of the night was when Ray Lewis was recognized for his service on and off the field. During his speech, he called on Cedric to share his story in front of everyone in attendance. It was a very inspirational and emotional moment!
Cedric had the opportunity to meet Jim, and other NFL legends at the event including Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin & Ray Lewis. It was a beautiful event and I was honored to be Cedric’s guest
We would like to thank Cheryl at Ocean 2 Ocean Productions for honoring warriors at the Legends of Charity Event, Anthony at EA Sports for Giving us the opportunity to host warriors as VIP’s at the MaddenBowl for the 4th straight year, Sean Wolfington for honoring Cedric & hosting us at Jim Brown’s 80th Birthday & Lisa at Staybridge Suites for providing accomodations for the warriors.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
MEET THE WARRIORS
ARMY CPL WESLEY LEON-BARRIENTOS
Army CPL Wesley Leon-Barrientos was deployed to Iraq in December 2007. While supporting his team on an air assault mission near Iskandariah, his team discovered and destroyed several car bombs and a weapons cache. Roadside bombs were encountered on the return trip to base and the convoy was diverted for security purposes.
While maneuvering around a suspected bomb, the truck which was carrying CPL Leon-Barrientos rolled over a pressure plate IED causing an explosion to rip through the vehicle. Sitting directly behind the driver, Wesley lost his left leg and right foot in the blast and suffered severe calf injuries as well as a broken jaw. After being airlifted by a Blackhawk helicopter, CPL Leon-Barrientos fell unconscious and awoke two days later in Germany where he was stabilized for transport to Walter Reed.
ARMY SGT BRIAN JERGENS
Army Sergeant Brian Jergens was on his first deployment when he lost both of his legs below the knee and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, internal organ damage, a broken neck, and damage to his right elbow in an IED blast in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2011.
An Army Medic, SGT Jergens was the driver of the fourth HMMWV in a convoy that day, and was thrown from the vehicle. Life-saving measures performed by his teammates prepared him for medevac to Tarin Kowt Hospital and then the Kandahar Airfield Hospital. Next transported to Bagram Air Force Base, Brian would also be treated in Landstuhl, Germany before coming stateside. Arriving at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX on August 14, 2012, Brian remained there until September 19, 2012.
MARINE SGT JULIO TORRES
I signed up for the Marine Corps at the age of 17 out of Bakersfield California. I was inbound to boot camp on September 17, 2001. My military occupational skill was an Anti-Tank Assaultman/ Demolition Expert in the Infantry, it has forever changed my life. I ended up deploying to Iraq with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines Kilo company from Kuwait to Baghdad and ended that tour in Karbala in 2003. I deployed once more in 2004 with 3/7 Kilo Company to Al Qaim in Iraq near the Syrian Border and Euphrates River. After that I served 3 years as a field instructor at Edson Range teaching thousands of recruits on field survival. Then I went on to 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, which I deployed to Okinawa Japan in 2009 on the 31st MEU training with military forces from, Japan, Philippines, Australia and Thailand. April of 2013 I was Medically Retired after 11 years and 7 months of active service. Currently, I train Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma at Wounded Heroes Fund, a local Non-Profit Organization in Bakersfield and I am also one of the voices of our podcast OVERWATCH. Outdoor recreation with veterans is what I truly enjoy. These activities helps me cope with the daily struggles of Combat PTSD. Helping veterans is my passion, if no one is willing to help, I definitely will. I am fixated on ending the social stigma of our Heroes committing suicide, 22 a day to be exact. I am the future and the voice for all my brothers and sisters.