Game 1 – Kicking Things Off Making Mile High Memories In Denver!
Over the next 4 months, my dad will travel more than 30,000 miles to host and honor military heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season. In fact, he has 44 games on the schedule & will do just about anything to put a smile on a warriors face.
In the words of the NFL , “We Are Back to Football.” It’s Day 1 of our 5th annual “All32in17” mission where we will be making Warrior Wishes come true at all 32 NFL Stadiums throughout the 2016 season all the way to Super Bowl 51 in Houston!
Over the past 4 years we have made Warrior Wishes come true in Denver 6 times. 3 of the 4 years we have hosted heroes at Mile High stadium to Kickoff the season! This year was no different as my dad made his way to Denver to host Marine SGT Gabe Martinez & Marine CPL Jerry Broesch to watch Cam Newton take on the tenacious Denver defense in a Super Bowl 50 rematch!
My dad actually got to Denver early and spent time networking with potential future sponsors at the NFL Kickoff Village, which was set up for the 2016 Opening Night Event.
More importantly, my dad used some of his free time to find a creative way to surprise Cpl Broesch – you see he has absolutely no idea he was even going to his first NFL game ever! His wife Kim and my dad have been planning the surprise for a couple of weeks. The Broesch’s live in Idaho and had a 6 hour drive to Seattle just to get on a flight to Denver. It was going to be tough to pull the surprise off, but they were up for the challenge.
My dad was on his way to ask the DJ in charge of the “Tostitos Stage,” in the NFL Kickoff Village, if we could surprise him on stage. On his way he happened to see a couple ladies talking with credentials who just happened to be with the NFL and running the event. He explained what we wanted to do, was actually pleasantly surprised at the quick “yes”. She told him to meet her at that Tostitos Stage at 1pm, and she would have it all set up.
My dad said he was texting CPL Broesch’s wife telling them where to go, while he was sitting right next to them. The DJ invited CPL Broesch to come up on stage. To his surprise, we honored him for his 19 years of service and brought my dad up to deliver an awesome New Era Broncos cap & 2 tickets to the game! It was an Awesome surprise!
Thanks to the Denver ChopHouse, my dad had a chance to hang out with the Broesch’s and got to know them a little bit before the game over a delicious pregame meal. (Also want to thank Elways as they offered dinner too but didn’t open until 5 and game was at 6:30-and that was cutting it too close).
The Denver Chophouse is located in the heart of downtown Denver. Their menu is filled with mouthwatering options. From Steaks to seafood it was amazing! On a side note, The Broncos have celebrated their Super Bowl Championships at the Chophouse. It’s a great place to gather before and after a game in Denver.
Marine Sgt Gabe Martinez, his wife & mother also joined the group at dinner. We have been trying to get Gabe to a game for a few years, but our paths have been close ever since we invited him to be a mentor at our “Night of Inspiration”event back on 2013 for New England Patriots and the Boston Bombing survivors. Unfortunately he has never been a part of our mission before, but my dad was honored to have the opportunity to finally meet him & personally thank him for his service and sacrifices.
After dinner, the Denver Fire Dept pulled up outside to provide Fire Truck transportation to the game. We met Jay, a Denver firefighter, a couple years ago and he helped us start this tradition – and even though he was in Idaho fighting wildfires this time, he still set up our annual escort.
THANKS to him and his Station #4, as well as to Alex and his crew from Station #11 who helped us provide an unforgettable ride to the Broncos game.
The atmosphere around the stadium was electric. On a beautiful night in Denver at Mile High stadium, Broncos fans were still celebrating the Super Bowl 50 championship at their tailgates before the game.
As game time approached and the Warriors made their way inside the stadium, Gabe’s prosthetic leg broke. Of course, my dad did all he could to accommodate and address this issue by getting him a pedi-taxi and wheelchair. Once inside, the Broncos helped switch their seats to ADA accessible seating.
Quite honestly, everything worked out ok for Gabe and his wife, since there were really no ADA seats left , they ended up sitting front row behind the visitors bench! The only unfortunate part was that our guests could not sit together… But both families had a great time.
We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kickoff our 2016 mission. Carolina led almost the entire game, but turnovers and some viscous hits (That should have been penalties) Kept Cam & the Panthers from putting it away.
Denver went ahead for the first time in 4th quarter 21-17. The Panthers added a Field Goal to get within one and then drove again with seconds on the clock to be in a position to win. Unfortunately for them, Graham Gano missed the 50 yard field goal as the clock expired. The Warriors & every Broncos fan in Denver went nuts & began celebrating the win!
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PHOTO GALLERY
My dad waited to for the Warriors outside the stadium & met back up with them after the game. He made sure that Jerry and Kim had a taxi back to the Denver Chophouse to pick up their car.
Gabe stayed for a little bit after the game to wait for the players to come out. While waiting one of the Broncos administrators who helped switch Gabe’s seats came by and showed off his new MASSIVE Super Bowl ring. Thankfully, “Rescue Rob”, a Broncos SuperFan, also stayed late after the game & Had a couple seats in his Fire Truck turned tailgate vehicle to give Gabe and his family a ride back too.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! We want to THANK the Kim Broesch for planning the surprise, the NFL & Tostitos for helping execute the surprise, The Denver Chophouse for dinner, the Denver Fire Dept for the ride, New Era Cap for the awesome Broncos caps and Rescue Rob for the post game ride! You all helped make this a fun & memorable day.
We also want to extend a Special THANK YOU to Ethan in Guest Relations and the entire Broncos staff for going above and beyond to help the warriors.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, THANK YOU to Marine CPL Jerry Broesch, Marine Sgt Gabe Martinez and their families for their service and sacrifice to our country. It’s appreciated, has not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten!
My dad will be sleeping at the meet renovated Denver airport tonight before catching his early morning flight back home. He will be back in action this weekend making Warrior Wishes come true in Baltimore & DC. Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
MARINE CPL GAME MARTINEZ
Corporal Gabriel Martinez and his wife, Kayla, were married only three months before Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) in October 2010. Just one month later, on Thanksgiving Day, Gabe called Kayla with the devastating news that he had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and medevaced out with one of his best friends. Both men lost their legs.
The Semper Fi Fund supported Gabe’s family while they were with Gabe in the hospital in Bethesda, MD so that they could remain by his side when he needed them most without added financial pressure. The Semper Fi Fund
also helped Gabe and Kayla move their belongings to their new home in California and provided additional assistance to Gabe’s family, allowing them to visit him when he left the hospital without having to worry about financial repercussions. Gabe was even able to purchase specialized athletic equipment and an adaptive truck, thanks to the assistance of the Semper Fi Fund.
Despite the loss of his legs, Gabe continues to be an extremely positive young man, always in a good mood and wearing a smile! In no time at all, Gabe learned to walk again on his new legs and has since been very busy rock climbing, skiing, biking and handcycling. He is also an active member of Team Semper Fi.
However, Gabe does still face certain difficulties of walking on prosthetic legs. For example, he sometimes has trouble bending down to pick things up. In 2011, to help him in his daily life, Gabe received a service dog that he named Wonka. Wonka can pick things up for Gabe and open doors when Gabe is in his wheelchair. Wonka can even fetch a drink from the refrigerator! In early 2012, Wonka became ill due to something that he had ingested. The Semper Fi Fund’s Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program took care of veterinary expenses, as well as necessities for Wonka, such as dog food. Wonka quickly returned to health and went back to assisting Gabe, who says he “feels blessed” to have a friend like Wonka in his life.
While heroically standing by Gabe’s side and helping him during recovery, Kayla also managed to accomplish milestones of her own. In May 2011, Kayla received her bachelor’s degree. She is also very active at the hospital helping other young wives of injured service members deal with the new challenges they face. She wants to make sure they know they’re not alone.
On October 30, 2012, Gabe and Kayla celebrated the birth of their first child – their beautiful daughter, Madelynn Grace Martinez.
Gabe is an inspiration to us all. He says his favorite quote is, “Tough times don’t last, but tough Marines do.” In the case of this Marine, that is surely a fact.
MARINE CPL JERRY BROESCH
Cpl. Broesch enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17. As soon as he turned 18 and graduated from High School he went to boot camp. He spent 4 years on active duty as an 351, Antitank Assault Man, in places like Okinawa and almost 2 years in Rota, Spain. Once his enlistment was up he returned to Idaho, to be recalled for Desert Storm, for a very brief time. He came back to Idaho, went to the University of Idaho and earned his B.S. in Environmental Science while caring for a wife and young daughter. He worked as an Environmental Specialist with the County and served on the State Hazmat Team. In 2002 he joined the Idaho National Guard because he still had a strong desire to serve his country. In 2004 he deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq with the HHC 116th Engr. Bn. as a 74D. While going out on a mission on Oct 26, 2005 he was in HMMVEE accident during which he suffered among other things a broken neck and back. After he returned home and got back on the mend he decided to volunteer to go to Iraq with another unit out of California that needed some help. So in 2007 he left again for Iraq this time as a 11B January 23, 2008 he was on a mission and blew out his knee and re-injured his neck and back. This was the final straw for his body. He underwent back surgery, neck surgery, wrist surgery, knee surgery, he suffered a TBI and bi-lateral hearing loss. He has spent the last 8 years in physical therapy. He was medically retired in April 2014 with almost 19 years of service spanning 4 decades.
In 2011 Jerry and his family were honored when they were chosen as the Army Family of the Year and the Military Family of the year by the National Military Family Association. This was the first time a National Guard Family has ever been recognized.
Jerry lives in North Idaho where he was born and raised. He and his wife have been together for 26 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. They have a 21 year old daughter who is married and has their 2 year old grandson. Jerry loves spending time with his family, fishing and camping.
Some of his awards include: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon w/1 star, Letter of Appreciation (3rd award), Meritorious Mast (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon, USN Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!
Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”
Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714