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Game 5 – Making Warrior Wishes Come True in Atlanta!

After making Warrior Wishes come true at the Carolina Panthers game on Thursday night…

My dad did some sightseeing around Charlotte on Friday before catching his first $1 megabus ride of the season to Atlanta.

We have made some amazing memories making Warrior Wishes come true in Atlanta. We’ve hosted warriors at both the old and new stadiums for both the Braves and Falcons. And we even had the opportunity to make Wishes come true at the Super Bowl in Atlanta back in February!

Today we were honored to be hosting 2 different families rooting for 2 different teams at the game. Army Sgt Wayne Stiles and his family was geared up rooting for the Falcons…

And Army Sgt Paul DiPaolo and his family was cheering on the Eagles!

Sgt Stiles was injured, just days before coming home from Afghanistan in july of 2016. Wayne was nominated to us by his wife, who tells us that he absolutely “LOVES” the Falcons. Her wish was to send her husband to a game with the family. It’s an honor to make this warrior wish come true!

Army Sgt Paul DiPaolo joined the Army in 2012. Unfortunately, he had to medically retire from the Army in 2017.  Today, Paul is back in school full time. His wife, who nominated him, says “he works his butt off to maintain passing while navigating through surgeries, procedures and appointments. There is only one time I see him truly escape from life for a little bit and that’s when his Philadelphia Eagles are playing! He bonds with our 6 year old mostly through this! They share the same passion watching and cheering together.”

My dad & I can relate to Paul & his son well. Because we too bonded through football. It was an honor to host them at their first ever Eagles game together!

Before the game, my dad met up with the DiPaolo family at the Georgia Aquarium.

The Georgia Aquarium is home to hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its seven major galleries, all of which reside in 10 million US gallons of marine and salt water! It claims to be one of the largest aquariums in the world!

While the DiPaolo family enjoyed touring the aquarium, my dad made his way to meet the Stiles family for lunch before the game.

Eventually both families made their way over to the Mercedes Benz stadium.

Thanks to Steve Cannon, the chief executive officer of AMB Group, the Stiles family had the opportunity to watch pregame warm ups from the field!

We cannot thank Steve enough for his support throughout the years. From helping us make Warrior Wishes come true at Super Bowl, to helping us host a group of warriors in a suite in New Orleans, he has helped make a lot of wishes come true! Steve is also a veteran him self, so we are thankful for his service too!

Both families enjoyed cheering on their teams.  The Falcons pretty much dominated the Eagles in the first half, but the Eagles never gave up and scored a go ahead touchdown with 3 minutes left in the game.

On 4th down with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones who sprinted sown the field for a 53 yard touchdown and sent the stadium into a frenzy!  It was a very exciting game for both teams but in the end, the Falcons won 24-20.

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Dan Tannas Restaurant, New Era Cap, and Steve Cannon for helping us make these warrior wishes come true!

After the game, my dad made his way to the airport to get a couple of hours of sleep before his 5am flight to Newark NJ.  He will be back in action tomorrow making wishes come true at the Jets game!  Stay tuned for more details!

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Game 46 – The Atlanta Falcons Make Warrior Wishes Come True At The NFC Championship Game!

For the first time in almost a month, my dad is back in action making Warrior Wishes come true.  The last 2 weeks we have been honored to host warriors at both the Packers & Chiefs playoff games.  However, due to inclement weather, my dad has not been able to travel to personally make the wishes come true.  

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So for the first time in 3 weeks, my dad was “back on the bus” and headed to Atlanta to host a group of warriors at the NFC Championship game where the Packers & Falcons were facing off for a bid to Super Bowl LI!  

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Thanks to our friend Steve Cannon, who had helped us honor heroes at the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, we were able to make wishes come true at the NFC championship game.  

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Steve is now in charge of getting the new state of the art Mercedes Benz stadium built in Atlanta, that will open next season.

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So today’s game, win or lose, will be the final game ever played in Georgia Dome!  

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We are honored to be hosting Army Sgt Jeffrey Shonk, Army Sgt Darius Welch & Army Spc Andrew Smith with his Wife and Caregiver Tori (see bios/pics below)

My dad arrived in Atlanta after a 16 hour bus ride at 9:15am.  His plan was to meet the Warriors for lunch before the game, then walk them to the stadium before finding a place to watch the game outside the stadium.  He had to catch a 10pm bus ride back to Chicago after the game, so there was little time to spare.  

My dad is not real fond of quick trips like this because it doesn’t provide enough time to hang out with the warriors, especially when my dad doesn’t go to the game.  But when expensive Playoff tickets are donated, we make sure they go directly to our nations heroes, and not to us, so he made it work!

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My dad met up with the Warriors at Taco Mac located near the stadium.  Daryl, the manager provided delicious pre game Meals for everyone again.  It’s the best place in Atlanta to meet before & after a Falcons game to fill up on great food & grab a drink.  We cannot thank Taco Mac enough for helping us make warrior Wishes come true in Atlanta!

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Everyone had a great time at lunch!  My dad presented the Warriors with their brand new Falcons caps thanks to our friends at New Era! 

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After lunch, the gang headed over to the stadium to snap a few pics before heading inside to watch the Packers & Falcons battle to become the 2016 NFC champions!

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Once the Warriors were inside, My dad made his way back to Taco Mac to watch the game. 

Jeff, Darius, Andrew and Tori were treated to awesome seats & were all very excited to see their Falcons clinch their first Super Bowl Berth in almost 20 years!  The only thing standing in their way was a Red hot Aaron Rodgers & the Green Bay Packers!

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Everyone expected a high scoring shootout between 2 high flying offenses & they didn’t disappoint.  The only surprising thing is that the Falcons completely dominated the Packers & never let their foot off the gas.  An early Packers fumble, as they were driving to the end zone, clearly changed the momentum of the game.  The Packers quickly fell behind 17-0.  The Warriors had plenty to cheer about all game long and relished in watching he confetti fall after the game as the Falcons won 44-21!  They will be headed to Houston in 2 weeks to play in Super Bowl LI!  

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Needless to say, this was a once in a lifetime experience for the Warriors & everyone had a great time!  We couldn’t have made it possible without the help of Steve Cannon & the Atlanta Falcons who provided the opportunity to make these wishes come true!  We also want to thank our friends at Taco Mac for providing lunch!  

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!  

 After the game, the warriors got back on the road home, while my dad hopped back on another 16 hour overnight bus back to Chicago.  He will be in Orlando next week to make wishes come true at the 2017 Probowl & the following week in Houston to make wishes come true all week long leading up to our season finale at Super Bowl LI!  Stay tuned for more details!  

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SGT JEFFREY SHONK

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Jeffrey Shonk joined the United States Army July 8th of 2008. He was stationed at Fort Stewart, GA  & deployed for the first time in July of 2010.

2 months and 10 days into his first deployment on September 23rd Jeffrey, PFC Gebrah Noonan, and SPC John Carrillo were shot in their room by their roommate.

Jeffrey is the only survivor from that tragic night. He spent the next 4 years in rehab learning how to walk and talk again after being shot in the head as well as working to get back to normal once he mastered walking and talking.

Jeffrey is currently in culinary school following his second dream to become a top chef like one of his Idols Tom Keller. Jeffrey & his wife are proud parents to 4 children.  

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Game 35 – The Atlanta Falcons Make Warrior Wishes Come True!

We kicked off week 12 with a bang making Warrior Wishes come true on thanksgiving day in Detroit & Dallas!  

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My dad had hosted in Detroit.  He took a bus back home immediately following the game & enjoyed some time with the family before his bus left early Saturday morning.  Typically, my dad doesn’t mind taking the bus.  Short trips aren’t bad & the overnight ones he never remembers because he sleeps the whole time.  But this was going to be a bus ride he would remember.  It was a 17 hour all day $1 bus ride from Chicago to Atlanta.  

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by the time he arrived & took the Marta to the airport, he told me “all the good beds were taken.”  So he didn’t get much sleep before meeting up with the warriors to make wishes come true at the Falcons game.  Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true at the Falcons games.  

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My dad met up with Army SGT Theo Lowe & Army SGT Marc Roberson at CNN before the game.  It has become tradition the last few years in Atlanta, to start our experience with the CNN Tour as a way of getting to know our warriors.

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Army Sgt Theo “TJ” Lowe and his 13 yr old son Kaleb were the first to arrive. My dad only needed to talk to them a few minutes before realizing they were huge Falcons fans.  Kaleb was definitely excited for his first Falcons game ever!  Army Sgt Marc Roberson, wife Karen and their 8 yr old  son Jaydon arrived just as we were getting in line for the CNN tour.  This was their FIRST EVER NFL game too!  My dad had the chance to get to know them a little bit on the tour . Marc was a big Falcons fan too.  

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After the tour, everyone headed over by the stadium for some pregame fun. The Falcons have one of the best PreGame activities for families in the league.  The kids had the chance to throw football, get fun photos & meet the cheerleaders.

Before the group went in the stadium, they snapped a few group pictures in front of both stadiums, as they are building the new Falcons stadium right next door and had an American flag hanging from 2 fire trucks which made for great photo.

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My dad said everyone had a great time at the game.  The Warriors were cheering every play and booing every bad one.  

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Luckily for them, there were many more plays to cheer than boo, as the Falcons dominated the Cardinals especially in 2nd Half . Arizona kept it close for the first half trailing only 17-13 at half but pulled away with 21 second half points for the 38-19 victory.  

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During the game, my dad caught up with Warriors Cedric King & Sean Adams at the game.  Cedric is one of the most inspirational people you will ever meet.  he was our guest to the Superbowl last year.  He & Sean were the Falcons honorary captains.

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After the game, our friends at Taco Mac treated everyone to nice dinner.  My dad said “These are my favorite times when we can just hang out and talk about whatever our guests want to talk about, and get to know them better, in a nice relaxed setting.”

Operation warrior wishes would like to thank the Atlanta Falcons for going above and beyond to provide tickets for the Warriors & their families.  We also want to thank New Era Cap for providing the Falcons caps, Chive Charities for the KCCO T Shirts, CNN for the pregame Tour of the studios & Taco Mac for the post game meal!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we ask that you join us in thanking to Army Sgt Theo “TJ “Lowe and Army Sgt Marc Roberson, and their families, for their service and sacrifices to our country.  It’s appreciated, hasn’t gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten.  (MEET THE WARRIOR BELOW)

After dinner, My dad headed Back to Atlanta airport to get a few hours of sleep before his early morning flight to Philadelphia.  Warrior Wishes COME TRUE at the Eagles game tomorrow night!  Stay tuned for more details.  

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY WARRIOR MARK ROBERSON

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Mark served 14 1/2 yrs in the Army before being medically retired in October 2014. He now spends his time caring for his kids and riding motorcycles with the CVMA, a motorcycle organization that does volunteer work helping veterans in need.

ARMY WARRIOR T.J. LOWE

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Theopilus “T.J.” Lowe was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga. His military career began as soon as he graduated from high school in 1999 at the tender age of 18. He was a Reservist for 8 years and stations at Fort Gilliam in Forest Park, Ga.- before he went Active Duty- and moved to Fort Hood, TX. During his 13 years of service he traveled the world training, and was deployed twice. A month before the 3rd deployment was scheduled, it was determined that he was no longer fit for duty due to injuries sustained during the previous ones. This news hit like a ton of bricks.  But, he knew going into combat injured was unfair and dangerous to his fellow brothers/sisters that depended on him for their safety and vice versa. Since his medical discharge, he has experienced his fair share of up and downs. However, he finds solace in his family. He has been an amazing husband for 15 years and is the father to 2 kids; a 9 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. He has since enrolled in school where is obtained a Culinary degree and is currently working on a Business one. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, grilling, bowling, and sports (especially the Falcons!!). His future plans are to own and operate a food truck.

Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

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www.WarriorWishes.org

Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714

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Game 19 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Atlanta!

My dad had a few days off in between making Warrior Wishes come true in Phoenix & flying out to Atlanta.  He was willing to take an 18 hour bus ride for $1 to get there, but I scored airfare for less than $50 and couldn’t pass it up.

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We kicked off week 8 hosting Army CWO Robert Sean Gannon, Army SGT Jason Nichols (wife,Shannon, also served in the Army for 2 years), Army Sgt Jeffrey Shonk & honoring the legacy of Lt Col Marshall Gutierrez at the Atlanta Falcons game.  (Meet the Warriors below)
Here are some of our favorite memories from making warrior wishes come true in Atlanta.
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Before the game my dad met up with the Warriors at CNN for a tour of their operation.
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The 55-minute guided walking tour included exclusive, behind-the-scenes views of Atlanta’s CNN studios and an exciting glimpse of news and broadcasting in action from the world headquarters of the Worldwide Leader in News. The Warriors even had the opportunity to practice being a weatherman on the green screen!
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A few hours before kickoff everyone made their way over to the ATLBucs tailgate for some pregame food & drinks.
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We would like to thank the Atlanta Falcons for going above & beyond to help us honor these brave warriors by providing 17th row tickets to the game.
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The Falcons made a great comeback to send the game into overtime, but ended up falling short to the Bucs by the score of 23-20.  Despite the loss the Warriors had a great time at the game & our day wasn’t over yet.
My dad escorted the Warriors over to the players parking lot after the game.  The guys had the opportunity to meet & get autographs from a lot of Falcons players including star running back Devonta Freeman!  It was the perfect way to end our day.
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Not only did we host heroes at 3 football games this weekend, my dad also hosted & honored 4 gold star family members of fallen hero Army SGT Philip Dodson at the Georgia Aquarium
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My dad eventually  jumped on the MARTA and got some rest at the Atlanta Airport before catching his early morning bus to Charlotte to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Panthers game.
We would like to thank the Atlanta Falcons for providing tickets, ATLBucs for hosting everyone at your tailgate, New Era for providing Falcons caps for the warriors, CNN for providing the tour & the Georgia Aquarium for hosting the Dodson Family.  Most importantly, we would like to thank the warriors for their service and sacrifices.  We truly hope you had a great time and the memories last a lifetime.
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY CWO ROBERT SEAN GANNON

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Army CWO Robert Sean Gannon is currently a Chief Warrant Officer 2 serving as a UH-60 Blackhawk Instructor Pilot.  Gannon joined the Army in 2008 and has deployed twice as an aviator to Afghanistan. He has a wife and three girls, ranging in age from 7 months to 9 years old. He & his family are currently stationed at Fort Rucker, AL where Gannon teaches primary and instrument phases of the Army’s flight school. He enjoys spending time with his family and flying aircraft in his free time

ARMY SGT JASON NICHOLS

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Jason Nichols grew up in Chatsworth, GA. He enlisted in the Army after he graduated High School. After completing training for Field Artillery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he was stationed at Fort Carson,  Colorado.  Nichols deployed with the 4th Infantry Division twice- Iraq in 2008 and then Afghanistan in 2011. SGT Nichols served in the Army until 2013 and then moved back home to Georgia. He enjoys restoring and customizing vehicles and spending time with his wife and four kids.

ARMY SGT JEFFREY SHONK

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Jeffrey Shonk joined the United States Army July 8th of 2008. He was stationed at Fort Stewart, GA  & deployed for the first time in July of 2010.

2 months and 10 days into his first deployment on September 23rd Jeffrey, PFC Gebrah Noonan, and SPC John Carrillo were shot in their room by their roommate.

Jeffrey is the only survivor from that tragic night. He spent the next 4 years in rehab learning how to walk and talk again after being shot in the head as well as working to get back to normal once he mastered walking and talking.

Jeffrey is currently in culinary school following his second dream to become a top chef like one of his Idols Tom Keller. Jeffrey has a wife Ashley and three children with a fourth on the way. 

It was an honor to host these warriors at the Falcons game and make their Warrior Wishes come true!  We have now made Warrior Wishes come true at 19 NFL games this season.  Follow our mission to honor heroes and keep legacies alive by providing once in a lifetime experiences at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th year in a row at warriorwishes.org.

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Thank you for your support!