Game 30 – Warrior Wishes Come True At The Panthers Game!
After making warrior wishes come true at the Giants game, which was our 29th game this season, my dad got to enjoy a few days off & spend time with family before flying out to Carolina Wednesday night. Xander & I greeted “G-Pa” at the airport.
I had to wake up at 4am to drive my dad to Ohare airport. After my dad checked in for his flight, he saw a familiar face. Former Chicago Bear & Carolina Panther, Charles “Peanut” Tillman and his wife Jackie were on the same flight heading to the game as well. Last year Charles was playing for the panthers and provided seats in a suite for the Warriors we hosted.
We are forever grateful to Peanut and Jackie for their support. In fact, Operation warrior wishes could have never made over 2000 warrior wishes come true without the players, Teams, sponsors, donors & followers who have helped us show appreciation to the Warriors since 2012. We cannot thank all of you enough! We truly mean it when we say “Together we make warrior wishes come true!” It’s a total team effort.
My Dad landed in Charlotte early Thursday morning. While he was in town, he stopped by the Charlotte Hornets office to try & set up a game there this winter.
He also stopped by the NASCAR Hall of Fame to thank Jenna and her staff for helping us make warrior wishes come true over the past few years.
We have made some incredible friends & amazing memories hosting heroes in Carolina since 2012!
This year was no different. My dad met the warriors at the Hilton Garden Inn next door to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Army Sgt Marc Owens was first to arrive – a Golden Knight with over 5000 jumps under his belt. We have been friends with Marc since we hosted him and a dozen other warriors at Sgt Travis Mills Documentary premier event in Times Square 3 years ago. Marc also joined us at Good Morning America & went on a tour of the NFL headquarters in New York City.
Army Cpl Cody Stanton was our other guest for the day. He was nominated to be our guest by his aunt in 2013. It was an honor to finally have the opportunity to meet and host this inspirational warrior! He was attending today’s Panthers Experience with his mom Nancy & his service dog Brent. They arrived about half hour after Marc. Marc & Cody actually knew each other so it made for a nice little reunion too.
They all hung out at the hotel for a little while talking and getting to know each other before heading over to the tailgate.
Our friends Joe and Lori hosted everyone at their tailgate for the 3rd straight year. Since the Panthers were playing the saints, they served Jambalaya & other New Orleans style dishes. Of course they also served their Traditional “Blue Juice” too.
Joe and his crew made Cody and Marc feel right at home, and the food was delicious! While they were having fun at the tailgate, my dad walked over to the stadium to exchange our tickets for Accessible seating. We would like to thank the Panthers for making the ADA exchange easy & hassle free. Trust us when we say, it’s not always an easy process… it’s one of the biggest challenges we face week after week.
As game time neared, Pantherman and has wife once again volunteered to give the warriors a ride to the stadium in their awesome custom black Panther themed van with hundreds of autographs on it!
In addition, Rachel from NBC 5 News was there shooting a live feed back to the station. They interviewed Pantherman and Marc, while doing a couple live segments at the tailgate showing every one screaming “Go Panthers!”
Pantherman dropped off everyone right in front of stadium. Coincidentally we ended up with all 4 of our guests sitting together!!! As I mentioned before, most stadiums make it tough to switch tickets for accessible seats. Thankfully the Panthers made it easy.
When to Saints & the Panthers play against each other you can expect a lot of scoring! But this game started out much differently. The Panthers dominated the first half, thanks to a couple turnovers. The Panthers took a commanding 20-3 lead into the half. The Panthers added a 3rd quarter Field Goal & looked as if they would coast to an easy win.
However, Cody knows his Panthers. He mentioned how the Panthers have been blowing 4th Quarter leads and playing too conservative. That’s exactly what happened. the Saints scored 17 unanswered points to cut the lead to 3. Thankfully the Panthers were able to hold on for the win & give the warriors something to cheer about!
After another memorable night of making Warrior Wishes come true, my dad walked with everyone back to the Hilton to pick up their cars and say goodbyes.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE PHOTOS FROM THE PANTHERS EXPERIENCE!
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Joe & Lori Scaldera for donating 2 tickets, hosting everyone at their tailgate and their great hospitality. We’d also like to thank Pantherman for the awesome ride to Bank of America Stadium, the Hilton Garden Inn for providing Parking Passes, New Era Cap for the new Panthers caps and Chive Charities for providing KCCO shirts!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
My dad will be hopping on 10 hour bus ride tomorrow to Washington DC where he will stop at Arlington National Cemetery before making Warrior Wishes come true at the Redskins game Sunday night! Stay tuned for more details.
MEET THE WARRIORS
SFC MARC OWENS
SFC (R) Marc Owens, Originally from Albion, Michigan. Graduated High School from Coco Solo, Panama, (Army Brat) enlisted in the service shortly after graduation. Here are a few of his duties; Armor Crewmen (M60 A3 Tanks) Ft. Carson , Co., Air Defense Artillery Ft. Stewart, Ga and becoming an AIRBORNE Rigger Ft. Bragg, NC with that being said, his military career exploded to an unprecedented level. In 2002 he became a member of the US Army Parachute Team ” The Golden Knights” then a Coach (parachute team) at West Point Military Academy, after that, he volunteered for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Shortly after his return, he had a horrific training accident (Skydiving) which resulted in numerous of injuries/surgeries and the amputation of both of his legs. He retired last year, and currently reside near Wilmington NC.
PFC Cody Stanton
A local soldier wounded in an IED explosion in Afghanistan continues his recovery. Cpl. Cody Stanton lost both of his legs in the explosion but his spirit remains strong.
Jan. 26 is a day Cody vividly remembers.
“I didn’t lose consciousness at any time,” he said. “My first thought was not me, not me.”
Cody was on foot patrol in Afghanistan with the 21st Military Police Company Airborne. It was the first time he was allowed to leave his position as a gunner in a truck.
“I was very excited about it, like I was crazy excited,” said Cody. “I felt too safe in the trucks. I wanted to be out there and feel like I was doing something.”
The 20-year-old was following his squad leader toward a trench where other soldiers were working to clear improvised explosive devices.
“I followed behind I guess,” he said. “I stepped somewhere where he didn’t.”
That step set off an IED. The force of the blast threw Cody in the air.
“I was preparing to beg God to either save my soul or save my life, just one or the other, maybe both,” said Cody. “Initially, when I blew up, everything went black for me. I couldn’t see again. But then, when I hit the ground, and I could see again, before I could even start praying and asking for forgiveness, it was like this feeling, this overwhelming feeling of love that came over me.”
In that moment, Cody said he felt God’s presence and knew he was going to live.
“I went from that feeling like the epitome of fear, like I’ve never been that scared in my life, to the point where I’ve never been so happy,” he said.
Cody was airlifted out of the area and eventually taken to a hospital in Germany. His mother, Nancy, met him there.
“I just remember him smiling and I remember thinking, thank God he is here,” said Nancy. “He’s a little changed but he’s still Cody.”
These days, Cody is at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His mother is always by his side.
The explosion claimed both of Cody’s legs and two fingers from his left hand. He knows his recovery will take a long time but he still feels blessed.
“My life’s not over. I’m going to get prosthetic legs,” said Cody. “I’ll be able to run. They say I’ll be able to bike, even ski, scuba dive, anything. Nothing’s holding me back.”
He’s staying away from self-pity and is finding strength in his faith and in the love of family and strangers.
“Nothing that can happen to you is bad enough that you should give up,” he said.
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