So my dad was sweating like a pig as he thanked the driver and hopped on the bus. He was asleep in seconds and doesn’t even remember the bus ride, waking up as they arrived in Buffalo at 2:05AM
Once in Buffalo, my dad caught a couple more hours of sleep at the bus station and then did a little work at Tim Hortons Coffee Shop.
At about 8:30 AM, he walked down to the New Era Cap Headquarters to surprise one of the Warriors with tickets to the Bills game & get a tour of their operation.
New Era has been an amazing partner since we began our mission in 2012. They have been providing caps to all the Warriors for the past 4 years & we cannot thank them enough for their support!
SPC Alex Thompson had no idea that he would be going to the Bills game game. His wife Josey, and his friend Travis have “set him up” and he thinks he is just at New Era Store to buy a new Cap.
My dad loves doing surprises and this was a good one – the receptionist at New Era agreed to video for him, as my dad approached Alex, he acted like he Knew him and was trying to figure out where he had seen him before. Obviously Spc Thompson was confused as to why this strange guy came up to him. My dad asked if he was a Bills fan to which he replied “yes,” my dad presented him with tickets & told him he was going to game today. At first he was in disbelief. My dad explained he was nominated for the experience & when Alex realized he was really going to the game, he became pretty excited!
Long time New Era employee, Jim
Wannemacher gave us a tour of their global headquarters & told us about the history of New Era & the history of the Federal Bank Building that they bought and refurbished for their home office. Seeing the 22 step process to make the caps was awesome!
After the very informative tour, we had lunch at Anchor Bar – the iconic Buffalo restaurant & home of the original “Buffalo wings.”
From there they made their way to Orchard Park, NY to see the First Game Ever at “New Era Stadium” home of the Buffalo Bills!
SPC Thompson & his friend Travis were huge Bills fans! As soon as they arrived at the stadium, they saw the New Era booth to paint your face. They didn’t hesitate to paint themselves red , in honor of those bright red Color Rush Bills jerseys!
While they were getting painted, our other guests arrived – SGT Mark Thompson (no relation) and SGT Matt Killian. Mark went right into that same line to turn red , but SGT Killian had no desire – he is actually a Steelers fan. Matt nominated Mark & has been a guest of ours in the past.
So now that everyone was “game ready,” they did a little tailgating and had one more Surprise for our heroes . Bills Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly has been incredibly supportive over the years and has met our warriors every single year!!!
This year was no exception. The Warriors, especially Alex, were almost in shock as we walked into Jim’s tent to meet him. It was the highlight of the day!
After having fun on the New Era tour & Tailgating with Jim Kelly it was Gametime!
The Jets got on the board first with a quick field goal, but Buffalo Quickly answered with an 84 yard touchdown pass from Taylor to Goidwin! The Warriors & the stadium erupted in cheers.
But the cheers went quiet as the Jets scored 17 unanswered points & went into the half leading 20-10.
The bills paid tribute to Bills Defensive End, Bruch Smith suring the halftime break.
The Bills came out in the 2nd half on fire! Taylor connected with Salas for a 74 yard TD on their first drive of the 2nd half. Just minutes later, the Bills recovered a fumble and returned it to the end Zone to give the Bilks the Lead! The fans went crazy!
Unfortunately, the Jets once again scored 17 unanswered points for the 2nd time in the game & went on to win by the score of 37-31.
Despite the loss, the Warriors had a great time!
Operation warrior wishes would like to thank the Buffalo Bills for providing tickets, New Era Cap for their continued support and caps for the Warriors. We also want to thank Jim Kelly for taking time to hang out with the Warriors. Thanks “Pinto Ron” for letting us tailgate with you and Thanks to Josey, Alex’s wife, for helping us pull off the surprise.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, THANK YOU to Army SGT Mark Thompson, Army SGT Matt Killian And Army SPC Alex Thompson for you service & Sacrifices to our great country!!!
My dad plans on sleeping at the bus station for his 2nd straight night & will Be in Cleveland this weekend to Make Warrior Wishes come true at the Indians & Browns games. Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
SGT MARK THOMPSON
I was born in Erie Pennsylvania. I graduated from giraffe high school in 2002. After high school I went to college. I joined the army in Jan 2009. I went to basic training at fort will Oklahoma. In may 2009 I graduated from airborne school. I went to AIT in may 2009 at for Leonard wood. I joined the 82nd airborne division in oct 2009. Shortly after in Jan 2010 I deployed to Haiti for humanitarian aid support for 4 months. While there I stayed at the air field and hlz4. My job was to provide supplies to our troops, and drive soldiers to help provide security for various missions. Shortly after I got married and now have a wife and 3 children. In may 2011 I was deployed to Iraq for operation new dawn: while there I stayed at al Assad and helped run aerostat(the eye in the sky). Then I joined back with my company and convoyed to taking. While in taking I was the gunner for our companies first sergeant and company commander. While deployed I reenlisted for 5 years to stay 82nd. In nov 2013 I moved joined 82nd sustainment brigade. While there I was squad leader and went to jrtc 3 times(6 total). I will be out of the army oct 31 2016. I served 7 years and 9 months. Had some of the best times while I was in and made a lot of friends who will always be my brothers
SPC ALEX THOMPSON
Alexander enlisted in the US Army in October 2007 as a 25U (Signal Support Systems Specialist). He did this not only to serve his country, but also to stave off homelessness. He had a hard time getting off his feet post-graduation from Deer Park ISD and struggled for months, living in a hotel with 5 other people. He knew the Army would lead him to greater things as well as give him somewhere warm to stay and food to eat.
Alexander spent his first five years at Fort Hood with the 31st and the 44th Chemical Company, as well as the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment for 2nd Chemical Battalion. During that time, he deployed with the 44th Chemical Company to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and ran mission to Afghanistan and Iraq from March 2011 through November 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn. Fort Hood was also where he met his wife, Josey, and had his first child, Zelda McKinley. In December 2012, He PCS’d to Fort Campbell and was attached to 194th Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion. There he helped further the capabilities of his company and the training of all its soldiers.
In November 2014, Alexander was medically discharged from Active Duty due to many injuries, including his knees and lower back, as well as mental health issues. Since then, he has welcomed another two sons, James Philip and Zacharia Donald. He now resides in Rushford, NY and enjoys spending time with his kids and hiking.
Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!
Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714