After an amazing day in Tampa where Warrior Wishes came true at both the Rays & Lightning games, my dad was off to Miami for a few days to host warriors and honor legacies at the Heat & Marlins games.
Tonight’s event has been almost a year in the making. Last year at our 3rd annual Warrior Wishes Scramble, one of the Warriors, Jeremy Rist, said he had a cousin who was a friend of Miami Heat player Wayne Ellington. So for the last few months we have been working on setting up a Miami Heat experience – tonight was that experience, and what a great one it was!
My dad arrived in Miami around 2:30pm. He immediately made his way downtown to the American Airlines Arena.
He had a couple of hours to explore, & get a little work done before meeting some of the warriors for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Miami.
Nara, the GM at the hard rock was excited for the opportunity to host the Warriors. She even put together a gift bag for them.
The Miami Hard Rock is one of the coolest restaurants in town! Located in the Bayside Marketplace on Miami’s beautiful Biscayne Bay, there’s no better place for handcrafted cocktails and Legendary® Burgers! Their walls are covered in the exclusive music memorabilia upon which legends were made!
Everyone enjoyed dinner & we cannot thank the Hard Rock Cafe Miami enough for rolling out the “Red Carpet” & providing a “VIP” dining experience!
After dinner, everyone walked over to the arena & meet up with our other guests.
We were honored to be hosting Marine SGT Michael Allison, Army SGT Steven Mentor, Marine Veteran Manuel Gomez & their family members. We were also honored to host the Gold Star family of PFC Marius Ferraro.
My dad snapped a couple of group pictures in front of the Arena before heading inside to see the Cavs take on the Heat!
Once inside they made their way to their 10th row seats thanks to Wayne Ellington!
This was a must win game for the Heat, as they were battling for a spot in the playoffs. The warriors cheered them on as they went back and forth in a seesaw game. Eventually the game went to overtime and the Heat came away with the 124-121 victory over Lebron James & the Cavs keeping their playoff hopes alive! Needless to say, everyone was excited about the win, but the experience was not over yet…
After the game, Wayne Ellington wanted to meet the warriors and thank them for their service. Ellington scored 12 points on the night including clutch 3 pointers that helped the Heat to Victory!
While waiting to meet Wayne, the warriors got an unexpected surprise from another superstar from another sport. Pittsburgh Steelers WR, Antonio Brown, was also at the game & took the time to thank the Warriors for their service & sacrifices! The smile on their faces says it all!
Once Wayne made his way out of the locker room to meet everyone after the game, he invited them onto the court to take a group picture.
He also took his time with each of the Warriors and their families to thank them for their service. Each family got their own photo and autographs.
As the clock struck midnight, we said our goodbyes and everyone headed home… Well except my dad – he had planned to grab bus to airport and sleep there, However, the last bus there had already left… So my dad just layed down on bench down by the ocean and got a couple hours of sleep. He said It was a beautiful night to “campout.”
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Wayne Ellington and the Miami Heat for going above and beyond to provide an unforgettable experience to all of the Warriors & their families. We also want to thank Nara and Hard Rock Cafe for providing the pregame meal, Antonio Brown for taking time to meet the Warriors & New Era for providing the Heat Caps.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, we hope you join us in thanking the warriors and their families for their service and sacrifice to our country! May we never forget the sacrifices they make!
My dad will be up early to catch the sunrise over the ocean.
He will be back in action honoring the legacies of a few Fallen Heroes at tomorrow’s Marlins game. Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
MARINE SGT MICHAEL ALLISON
Michael W. Allison, born in St. Catharine, Jamaica and raised in Miami, FL. During his childhood, Michael excelled in art, several sports and worked at Papa John’s Pizza Corporation throughout high school. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps , where he completed his basic training at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Beaufort, SC. Michael completed eight (8) years of honorable service with tours at Camp Lejeune, NC, Okinawa, Japan, Camp Pendleton, CA, Al Fallujah, Iraq and Quantico, VA. In 2004, he served in combat zone of the Iraq War in Anbar Province cities of Fallujah and Ramadi; through selfless acts and moments of courage, Michael became a recipient of numerous awards to include two Navy Achievement Medals and the Purple Heart Medal. Michael is an active alumnus of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Team Semper Fi, Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA), Fairways for Warriors, No Barriers Warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Disabled Sports USA, Purple Heart Military Order (PHMO), Project Management Institute (PMI) and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.
Once honorably and bravely serving his country, Michael worked for Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation as a Trainmaster Manager of Operations for 5 years in Atlanta, GA. He was assigned additional duties as both the Vice President of the District Safety Committee and a member of the Safety Performance Innovation Respect Integrity and Teamwork (SPIRIT) committee. He also collaboratively worked on several successful Train Performance, Fuel Efficiency and Personnel Management Projects saving his assigned district over $5 million, where he later was recognized for his efforts and received the Train Performance SPIRIT Award for the 2010 1st quarter with Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation Georgia Division.
Currently, Michael works for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Information Technology (OI&T) as an IT Project Manager in Miami, FL. Michael is a single father to one son named Omar.
Michael is a continuous scholar, as he has attained his Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM), Federal Acquisition Certification Contracting Officer’s Representatives (FAC-COR) certification and completed the Information Technology Program from the Information Technology Academy of South Florida. Additionally, he has achieved his Applied Associate of Science (AA) in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Central Texas College, Bachelors of Science (BS) in Business Information Security from Indiana Wesleyan University (Cum Laude) and attained his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Applied Management from Indiana Wesleyan University summer 2015. Michael, is currently in pursuit of earning his Six Sigma Green & Black Belt Certification and Project Management Professional (PMP) certification
ARMY SGT STEVEN MENTOR
I joined the us army 19 sep 2001 right out of high school. I was sent to basic training at ft lenord wood missouri for basic training and AIT. I graduated on January of 2002. My first duty station was with the 230th mp co out of kaiserslaughtern Germany. 230th mp co. I was only there for a couple of months before I deployed to Kosovo camp bondsteel for six months. I left June 2002 and returned later that same year. I deployed to Iraq in 2004 for a year. We where stationed Bagram Airbase. 230th mp lost there first soldier Johnathan kephart. We finished that year without losing anybody else. I returned to Germany and finished my tour and ets 230th mp co in 2006. I joined the national guard in october 2006 and within one year I was mobilized to north florida to assist with the forest fires. In 2008 I was once again deployed to Afghanistan with the 715th mp co. We did prison duty and visitation while being deployed. Return home one year later on the 3 of July.
PFC MARIUS FERRERO
Written by Manuel T. Ferrero III
My brother PFC Marius Leonardo Ferrero, aka Mario, aka Bolo, was a very special kid from Miami. From early in his childhood you could tell that he was a special boy. He was very self-less, always helping others. Had a very BIG Heart! Adored his family. He would help our grandparents often with house work and anything that needed to be done around the house. He would help in the yard, as our grandmother loved plants. We lost our father at the early age of 8 and so our grandfather, who was a very influential person in his life, became his father figure. He taught Mario many things about life, including how to go through the world helping others. I think this set in to my brother early in life because he gravitated towards community service involved projects and clubs including Boys Scouts, Civil Air Patrol & JROTC. Not to mention his passion for baseball. He loved playing in little league and enjoyed following and cheering for his beloved Marlins!
I believe my brother did not have any conscience plans to join the military, it was just something inevitable that if you really knew Mario would not have surprised you to hear that he was to join our country’s military. It made perfect sense for him to join our forces and help others. It was his calling. That is why it was not so surprising to have heard that he had just decided to join the Army from one day to the next. That was Mario. If he wanted to do something, he was going to do it….. and no one was going to stop him.
He joined the Army in early 2007, and was killed in action on Nov 18th 2007 in Baqubah, Iraq. He had only been out of basic training less than 6 months. He was deployed to Iraq and was only there for 2 weeks when our grandfather passed away. They gave him 2 weeks leave to come home and be with our family and say good bye to our grandfather. After the 2 weeks, he returned to his base in Iraq around 11pm local time, he called our grandmother to let her know he was safe. And the next morning he passed away. Killed along with 2 other soldiers in an IED explosion on the outskirts of Baqubah.
We will never forget Mario. And our family along with everyone at the Non-Profit organization MARIO’s SOLDIERS will continue his legacy forever.
We love you. I love you.
Your brother, Manuel T. Ferrero III