We have had a wild start to our 2016 “All32in17” mission! So far we have been honored to make Warrior Wishes come true in Denver, Baltimore, DC, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, New England, Dallas & New Orleans! 9 games in he first 3 weeks of the Season!!!
My dad enjoyed some time back at home and actually slept in his own bed 2 straight nights for the first time since we kicked off the mission on September 8th. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to sleep in as he had to get up at 4:00am to catch his $1 Megabus to Cincinnati for Game #10 of our 2016 mission.
His early morning bus ride through Indianapolis arrived in Cincinnati around 1:30pm which gave him a couple hours to get a little work done at Cafe Barista, who has sponsored our lunch a couple times over the years. We have made some incredible memories making Warrior Wishes come true in Cincinnati!
Today my dad was making Warrior Wishes Come true for Marine CPL Larry Draughn Jr, 20 year Air Force veteran Michael Haslet & Marine CPL Alex Hazlitt. (MEET THE WARRIORS BELOW)
Larry was a captain in our 3rd Annual Warrior Wishes Scramble in August & is a dies hard Bengals fan! It was an honor to finally host him at a game with his father & brother in-law.
Cpl Draughn called my dad as he was walking over to the stadium and ironically his truck was pulled up right behind the Bengal Bomb Squad van, waiting for the tailgate lot to open. So Larry and his family got to meet Big John before My dad got there.
Big John & the Bengal Bomb Squad have played host to us every time we are making Warrior Wishes come true in Cincinnati. They are one of our favorite tailgate crews in the NFL and always help us create an unforgettable experience!
The only “issue”… but really a non-issue- was the fact that Larry’s wife was dressed in a bright orange Dolphins jersey, today’s Bengals opponent.
The Bengals fans are pretty good about welcoming fans of their opponents . Luckily, at least Larry’s son, Garon, was a huge Bengals fan.
While the Bengal Bomb Squad set up their tailgate, My dad walked over to the stadium to pick up the tickets.
Bengals injured tight end Tyler Eifert and his father Greg provided tickets and a big surprise for the Warriors! Hopefully, Tyler will be back on the field next week! He was injured in last years Pro Bowl and has been rehabbing ever since.
As usual, the Bengal Bomb Squad tailgate was amazing! They had great food, great fun and honored the Warriors before the game. Big John introduced my dad to the tailgate crew & lets him introduce the Warriors. The Bomb Squad presented them with special gift bags , followed by Bengal Bomb toast to a big “WHODEY!” Everyone hung out at the tailgate for a couple hours before heading over to stadium.
My dad said It was so cool seeing the Warriors reaction when they saw the awesome seats we had, thanks to Tyler Eifert and his dad Greg.
Greg came over to meet the warriors before the game and presented everyone with post game Passes to meet Tyler & some of the players!
Once the game kicked off, Larry’s wife’s and father in law (who were both Dolphins fans) got to celebrate first as Ryan Tanneyhill threw and 80 yard a TD pass on first series for 7-0 Dolphins lead. However, Larry and his son had last laugh. AJ Green put up 173 yards and scored a TD to help give the Bengals a 22-7 win!
The Bengals win was not the end of this experience. After the game, everyone headed down to meet Tyler. Garon’s favorite player is Tyler and we did not tell him he was going to meet him. Garon is such a big fan that he even pointed out Tyler on the field even when not in uniform.
The meeting was priceless! My dad said getting to see the Warriors smiles as they interacted with Tyler is what makes the crazy travel and hard work all worth it!
Before heading home, they also had the opportunity to meet AJ Green, Andy Dalton and many more. They got photos and autographs on his hat with each – BUT only let Tyler sign his jersey.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Tyler, Greg and the Bengals Bomb Squad for Providing this amazing Bengals experience! We also want to thank New Era for providing Bengals caps to the Warriors!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, THANKS to Marine Cpl Larry Draughn Jr, Air force Veteran Michael Hazlett and Marine Cpl Alex Hazlett for their service and sacrifices! They haven’t gone unnoticed, are appreciated & will never be forgotten!
My dad plans to spend the night at the bus station before boarding his $1 bus ride at 6am back to Chicago. He will be flying out to Houston Saturday afternoon to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Texans game this weekend! Stay tuned for more details.
MEET THE WARRIORS
MARINE LCPL LARRY DRAUGHN JR
“I felt my body slipping away,” said Draughn, who grew up in Vandalia and Dayton and now lives in Fairborn. “The guy I considered my best friend, I called him over and told him to tell my wife and my kid that I love them and I’m sorry I wasn’t coming home.”
Draughn’s Marine squad was patrolling near the town of Now Zad, Afghanistan, on May 30, 2009, when the then 21-year-old stepped on an improvised explosive device in an area of Helmand Province that was largely controlled by Taliban insurgents.
“I hit the ground and I looked over to make sure no one else was hurt,” he recalled. “I realized I couldn’t hold my gun because both my hands were shattered. I yelled to my squad leader and radio operator and told them to help me, that I was dying. And that was when they realized I had gotten hit.”
Draughn is one of 20,000 service members wounded in action in Afghanistan. Thanks to the quick actions of his squad and others that day, he didn’t become one of the 2,300 from the United States who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom, the name given the now nearly 13-year-old Afghanistan war.
Draughn lost both legs and suffered multiple hand wounds, including the loss of two fingers that required his surgeon at Bagram Airfield hospital to insert pins or wires into the fingers to hold them extended and roughly aligned. He spent two and a half years in physical therapy and training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before moving back full-time to Ohio.
Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714