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Game 45 – Warrior Wishes Come True at the Bears Game!

Operation Warrior Wishes was honored to host Marine Elvis Gutierrez and Navy Am2(AW/SW) at the Chicago Bears game!

We would like to thank our friends at Sebern Homes and Grandview Homes for giving us the opportunity to make Warrior Wishes come true at every Bears home game this season!

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

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Warrior Wishes Come True at Tarik Cohen’s Celebrity Bowling Event!

Operation Warrior Wishes was honored to host Army Sgt Jimmy Ferguson, Marine Sgt Ryan Curry, Navy Corpsman Dennis Doyle, Marine Cpl Richard Monzon and Army Sgt Lorenzo Amaro at Chicago Bears Running Back, Tarik Cohen’s celebrity bowling event benefitting The Boys and Girls club.

We would like to thank you all for your service and sacrifices!

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Game 49 – Warrior Wishes Come True At Soldier Field!

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank a very generous Bears season ticket holder for donating his 4th row tickets to make wishes come true!

Sgt. Ryan O’Hara entered the marines after he graduated high school in 2012.  Ryan’s MOS was infantry and was a FAST Marine. His first deployment was to Cuba and guarded Guantanamo Bay. After Cuba Ryan was deployed to Bahrain and as ISIS was making their advance in Iraq Ryan was rapidly deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where he helped evacuate and guard the US embassy.  After Iraq Ryan moved to to California to Camp Pendleton and finished his active career in the 1st light Armored reconnaissance Battalion.  Ryan is currently in active reserves and will be going to paramedic school this January.

It was an honor to host him at the Bears game & make this wish come true!

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Game 16 – Warrior Wishes Come True At Soldier Field!

So far this season, we have made Warrior Wishes come true at 15 NFL games!  

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

My dad kicked off week 5 in Tampa, flew to Houston to make Wishes come true at the Texans game & flew home first thing Monday morning and prepared to host warriors at the Bears Monday night matchup against the Vikings!

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I used my lunch hour to pick my dad up from the train station at around 11am.  He looked exhausted.  He said he had slept a total of 8 hours in the past 3 days & hadn’t slept in a bed since last Wednesday!  I don’t know how he does it….

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But as they say, the show must go on.  My dad had 2 hours to spend at home before he had to catch the train back downtown to meet up with the warriors.  

Most of you know that my dad gets paid in nothing but smiles.  He doesn’t do this for recognition, or to go to games or to travel the country.  He makes warrior wishes come true because he loves giving back to the brave men & women who selflessly serve us.  His travel schedule isn’t glamorous & he spends a lot of nights sleeping at airports and bus stations because he doesn’t want to spend the money we raise on operating costs.  He wants to use that money to give back to more warriors.  

So even though he was thoroughly exhausted, he will tell you that when he met up with the warriors & got to see the smiles on their faces “That’s why I do it!”  It’s truly amazing that we have had the opportunity to host more than 3000 warriors at more than 600 events since we started our father & son mission in 2012.  It wouldn’t have all been possible without my dad’s dedication & hard work.  I’m definitely proud to call him my dad!

Back to today’s mission.  My dad cleaned up and quickly made his way to the train station to go downtown and meet up with the warriors.  Today we had the honor of hosting Army SSG Chris Hemwall & Army Private Malcolm Franklin at the Bears game. 

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Throughout the years we have made some unforgettable memories making Wishes come true at Soldier Field!

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He met up with the warriors at Whole Foods for lunch before the game.  Army Sgt Chris Hemwall and his wife, were first to arrive.  

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Christopher Hemwall joined the Army in September of 2008 as a 19 Delta cavalry Scout. After training he was stationed in Vilseck Germany with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment (2SCR) for a little over a year before being deployed to Afghanistan in May 2010. He spent 10 months there before he was injured in an ambush attack on March 19, 2011. He was shot three times (lower back butt and right thigh) He spent 21 months at the hospital going through rehabilitation to keep his right leg. 

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In November of 2012, Chris & his wife became parents and two months later Chris ended up having to having to amputate his right leg below the knee due to the atrophy being so severe. He and his family spent the next few years at Walter Reed and on January 27, 2015 SSG Hemwall was medically retired from the Army after serving a little over six years and 4 months of active duty.  Today, Christopher is currently a full time student at Eastern Michigan University studying criminal justice.  Chris is from Michigan, and most of his family cheer for the Lions, but somehow Chris became a huge Bears fan!  My dad really enjoyed getting to know him over lunch.

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He also enjoyed getting to know Army Private Malcolm Franklin.  He was nominated to us by the Aurora National Guard.  Malcolm never misses a Bears game on TV.  He was very excited for the opportunity to attend his first ever Bears game!  He was equally as excited to meet SSG Hemwall.  Malcolm is just getting started with his military career so he asked Chris a lot of questions about the Army & military throughout the night.  Chris took the time to answer his questions & he was very thankful for the information.  

After a great meal thanks to Whole Foods, my dad handed out thank you letters to the warriors, presented them with new Bears caps courtesy of New Era & they made their way to Soldier Field to watch the Vikings & Bears kick things off!  

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They stopped by the Meijer fan fest to have some fun and take some pictures before heading inside.  At the fan fest, they met former bears players Rashied Davis & Steve Edwards.  

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As game time approached, they headed inside for the National Anthem.  The guys were treated to a very exciting game.  Bears Rookie QB, Mitchell Trubisky made his debut & the stadium was electric! 

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The Bears defense put them on the scoreboard first after sacking QB Sam Bradford in he end zone for a safety to take a 2-0 lead.   The Vikings answered with a field goal and took a 3-2 into halftime.  

After a defensive battle in the first half, the offenses came to life in the 2nd half.  A quick 3rd quarter TD by the Vikings extended their lead to 8.  Then the Bears fooled everyone with a fake punt which resulted in a Touchdown for the home team.  The Warriors & chicago fans went wild!!!

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Less than 2 minutes later, Vikings RB, Jerrick McKinnon scored on a 58 yard scamper.  

Trailing by 8 in the 4th quarter, Mitchell Trubisky marched the bears down the field & connected with Zach Miller for his first ever NFL touchdown pass.  The TD gave the bears the opportunity to tie the game.  The Bears used some trickery to successfully convert the 2 point conversion & the game was tied at 17.  It appeared as if the game was headed to overtime.  But an interception with just over 2 minutes left in the game led to a Vikings field goal to win the game.  

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Despite the loss, the warriors had a lot of fun & a memorable experience at the game.  We couldn’t have made it all possible without Hampton inn in Elgin who provided accommodations for the Hemwalls, New Era who provided Bears caps, Whole Foods who provided a delicious meal & our friend Jon Puklin who provided tickets to make these wishes come true!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we want to thank Army Sgt Christopher Hemwall and Army Pvt Malcolm Franklin for their service & dedication to our country!  

After the game, my dad headed home to get some much needed & well deserved rest in his own bed.  He has a few days off before he heads to Carolina to make Warrior Wishes come true at Thursday night’s Panthers game.  Stay tuned for more details! 

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It was an honor to host these brave warriors and make their Warrior Wishes come true. If you know a deserving warrior who would love to attend a game on our “All32in17” mission please nominate them today!

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

Make sure to follow our mission live on Facebook Twitter & Instagram @WarriorWishes.

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 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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Game 2 – Warrior Wishes Come True At Soldier Field!

We kicked off our 2017 “All32in17” Mission off on Thursday in New England & made Wishes come true at the Patriots game.  The warriors had an unforgettable experience!

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My dad made his way back home Friday morning & had a relatively “easy” week considering our 2nd game of the Season was here in Chicago.  We typically try to schedule our Bears game during the middle of the season to give my dad a little break from his hectic travel itinerary.  Lucky for him, this is one of 2 Bears games on our schedule.

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

On a picturesque day in Chicago, I dropped my off to catch the 6:37 AM train so he could get downtown to tailgate with the warriors by 8:30.  

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Today we were honored to be hosting Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Shannon & honoring the legacy of Army SGT Paul Smith by hosting his wife & son in his honor.   (MEET THE WARRIORS BELOW)

Upon arrival at Union Station in Chicago, my dad decided to get some exercise & walk a few miles to “Da Bus” tailgate near Soldier Field.  

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“Da Bus” is an old 1974 school bus that was converted into the ultimate Bears party bus.  It’s one of the most exciting places to tailgate before any Bears game.  And you never know who may show up.  More than 35 former Bears players including Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus & Dan Hampton have come out to tailgate with Da Bus!  Celebrity chef Guy Fieri even filmed an episode of “Tailgate Warriors” with the crew!  

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Tim Shanley, the owner of “Da Bus” has not missed a Bears game since 2008!  And did I mention that Tim lives in Austin Texas?  He is a die hard Bears fan who has logged over 130,000 miles since he began his streak.  

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For Tim, he says it’s all about good food, having fun & hanging out with great friends!  We cannot thank them enough for hosting warriors at their tailgate since 2013!

The Smith family had arrived at the tailgate before my dad. When he arrived, Kim was in the middle of a giant game of Jenga with a few other Bears fans.  Meanwhile, her son, Ben, was capturing the action on video.

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My dad interrupted the game to introduce himself and to thank Kim for her husbands service & ultimate sacrifice to our country.  He gave Kim a big hug before letting her finish the game.   And after she won her Jenga game, my dad escorted Kim & Ben over to meet “Bearman.”

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As always, Tim & his tailgate crew made them feel very welcome and expressed his gratitude for their family’s service & sacrifices as well. He also made sure they knew they “were like family ” and were welcome into “Da Bus” anytime they wanted.  So they decided to take a little break while they waited for Navy Veteran Ryan Shannon to arrive.  

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Upon arrival, my dad walked Ryan onto the bus to introduce him to the Smiths & distribute new Bears caps to everyone courtesy of New Era.  Moments later, former Bears Wide Receiver, Tom Waddle walked onto the bus & surprised everyone!  

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After filling up on great food & getting to know new friends, everyone made their way to Soldier Field.  Home of the Chicago Bears!

Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL.  The stadium originally opened on October 9th  1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium. The name was changed to Soldier Field on November 11, 1925, as a memorial to U.S. soldiers, like SFC Paul Smith, who had made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.

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The stadium closed for renovations in 2001.  The work took a total of 20 months to complete and on September 29, 2003 the stadium reopened & looked as if a “Spaceship” on top of it. 

To preserve Soldier Field, the classic colonnades were saved intact as a lasting monument to its glorious past and a 250-foot granite-wall sculpture serves as a memorial to the men and women who served in the armed forces.

It has been an honor to make all of these Warrior Wishes come true at Soldier Field over the past 5 years.

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We had one more surprise for the warriors before the game. As my dad was walking them up to the stadium he presented them each with an autographed 8×10 personally signed by Brian Urlacher!  

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Needless to say, they were excited for the Bears to kickoff the 2017 season against the defending NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons.  

Many bears fans have low expectations for this year’s Bears team, but I Think the Bears surprised a lot of people & almost beat the Falcons!  Trailing by 6 late in the 4th quarter, the Bears marched down the field to set up a 1st and goal opportunity.  Unfortunately, a couple of dropped passes in the end zone cost them a Win & the Falcons escaped with a 23-17 Win.  

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Tim at “Da Bus” for hosting everyone at the tailgate. Bearman and former Bear Tom Waddle for taking time to show their support to the warriors and their families as well as Brian Urlacher for sending us a couple of signed 8×10’s for the warriors.   We also want to thank New area for providing Bears caps to the warriors!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly we want to thank Navy Veteran Ryan Shannon & the Smith family for their service & sacrifices.  May we never forget!

With ticket prices at over $150 for opening day, my dad made his way back home once he walked the warriors to the stadium.  He wanted to get a little family time in before making his way back downtown for the 2nd time today to catch his $1 overnight megabus to Minneapolis for tomorrow’s Vikings game.  Stay tuned for more details!

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MEET THE WARRIORS

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Shannon

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Shannon developed post-traumatic stress disorder from fighting a fire on the nuclear submarine USS Miami when it was dry docked in New Hampshire.

One of the first at the scene, he took charge of the firefight on the vessel’s port side.

The fire was enormous and ravaged the sub, with heat so intense the military and civilian crews trying to put it out could only spend 30 seconds at the front, then would retreat for a couple of minutes to cool off.

“For 10½ hours, we fought that fire,” Shannon said. “It was chaos. My uniform was melting to my legs, and my boots were melting to the surface. … We pulled people out of there we thought were dead.”

Shannon was a hero at the disaster, but shortly after, PTSD began affecting him. He continued his job, however, and was soon back on the sub.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE- http://www.morrisherald-news.com/2017/06/19/navy-veteran-ryan-shannon-to-compete-in-department-of-defense-warrior-games/atjvika/

Army SGT Paul Smith

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Paul G. Smith was born July 9th, 1965 in East Peoria, Illinois. Paul attended East Peoria schools and graduated from East Peoria High School in 1984. Paul worked many different odd jobs until he met his surviving wife Kim L. Day-Smith of Kewanee, Illinois where he made the brave decision to join the armed forces in the Army to provide for his new and upcoming family in 1993. Paul took his family all over the world including Vilseck, Germany to Fort Hood, Texas and ending in Fort Riley, Kansas on his military deployments. Paul did six tours overseas to protect our country after 9/11. His final tour was his sixth tour to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Paul and Kim were married twenty-one years and had two children, Sarah and his biological son, Benjiman. Paul loved his fish and he built a pond while on R/R in 2009 and had several fish tanks that he took pride in. Paul also like bowling and spending time with his family and teaching Benjiman how to build things. Paul’s favorite show he watched was “Smallville” on Sunday nights with popcorn and grilled cheese after the football games that Kim demanded he watched with her and Benjiman. Paul’s favorite holiday was Halloween where he loved seeing the children dress up and his wife too. They liked scaring the children in the neighborhood when they came up for trick or treating.

Paul was an older soldier joining at the age of twenty-seven but his crew treated him as an equal. Paul loved his family and his friends dearly, and wanted to do his duty to protect them and preserve their freedom.

It was an honor to host these brave warriors and make their Warrior Wishes come true. If you know a deserving warrior who would love to attend a game on our “All32in17” mission please nominate them today!

2017 All32in17 Mission Schedule (2)

Make sure to follow our mission live on Facebook Twitter & Instagram @WarriorWishes.

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 THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

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Game 42 – Warrior Wishes Come True A Freezing Cold Soldier Field!

This is going to be a wild weekend filled with Warrior Wishes coming true! 

Thanks to many generous supporters, we have been receiving more and more donations as our mission continues to grow.  Those donations include cash, meals, tickets and volunteered time.  We are very thankful to everyone for their support & proud to say that 98% of what we bring in goes directly towards making wishes come true for our nation’s heroes.

This weekend some generous donors helped us treat some amazing Warriors to some unforgettable experiences!  Last night our friends at VACO in Nashville made Warrior Wishes come true in a “Suite” way at the Predators game for the 3rd straight year!  

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Thankfully, Warrior Wishes Director Mark Toppel, was able to host the large group of warriors along with our friend Keith in Nashville.  

My dad would have been there, but he was headed to the east coast for the weekend to host Warriors at the Ravens game on Sunday & Giants game Monday night.  

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While he was on the road, we also had the opportunity to make a few wishes come true back here in Chicago thanks to Vern Tempe.  Vern donated 4 Packers vs. Bears 4th row tickets!  

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With -20 degree wind chills in the forecast we thought it may be tough to find Warriors who would want to attend the game.  

But warriors don’t care how cold it is, they are tough, so of course we found a few brave Warriors who were willing to “bear” the cold weather to see their team take on the division rival Green Bay Packers.  

It was an honor to host Army Sgt William Cree & the Gold Star family of Army SGT Damian Bushart at the game.  

My dad and I had met SGT Cree & his service dog Nixon the NFL Draft in Chicago.  William mentioned he was a Bears fan.  His Friend nominated him for the experience.  He was beyond excited to watch the Bears from the 4th row!  

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Army Sgt Damian Bushart made the Ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in Iraq in 2003.  It was a true honor to provide this experience to SGT Bushart’s wife & son in his honor.  

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As you can see, everyone was dressed for the extreme weather conditions.  Thankfully temperatures never dropped as low as they were expected to go, but it was still in the single digits all game long. 

The Bears did their best to play spoiler & tried to crush the Packers hopes of making the playoffs.  Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers & the Packers did what they do best & were able to beat the Bears 30-27 and keep their playoff chances alive.  

Despite the loss, everyone still had a great time & nobody got frostbite!  Haha.

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Vern Tempe for donating the incredible 4th row seats to make these wishes come true. 

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

But MOST importantly we want to thank Sgt Cree and to the Bushart family for their service and ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.  It is appreciated, it has not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten.

MEET THE WARRIORS

MARINE WARRIOR WILLIAM CREE

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My name is William Cree I join the Marine Corps at the age of 18 straight out of high school I was shipped off to boot camp the day after my 18th birthday on July 7 I went to basic training then chose to be come motor tea went to motor transport school and completed it after that I was shipped off to camp Penelton California within two weeks I was shipped off to Iraq for my first tour to Iraq. I did two more tours on my third tour I reenlisted I enjoyed being a leader of Marines and teaching them what I knew and what I’ve been taught. About a year after I reenlisted I was in a severe motorcycle accident and paralyzed my arm because I paralyzed my arm I was no longer able to stay in active duty so I was medically separated from the Marines.

ARMY PFC DAMIAN BUSHART

www.IraqWarHeroes.org
www.IraqWarHeroes.org

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

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

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Game 18 – Making Warrior Wishes Come True In Green Bay!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

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

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Game 6 – Warrior Wishes Come True At Soldier Field!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

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

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Game 28 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Chicago!

Saturday night, after my dads flight to Baltimore was cancelled, we exhausted all options & did everything we could to try to get my dad to Baltimore in time to make warrior wishes come true at the Ravens game.

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Unfortunately there was no way to make it happen…  So I picked him back up from the airport and brought him back home to sleep in an actual bed.
Thankfully our friends in Baltimore, the “Posse” still hosted the warriors and gave them an unforgettable Ravens experience from the tailgate to providing them front row seats!
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So while they hosted heroes in Baltimore, my dad got to team up with me to host a Gold Star family at the Bears game.
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On June 9, 2014, at the young age of 19, PFC Aaron Toppen lost his life during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.  (See his full bio below)
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Ever since Aaron made the ultimate sacrifice his family has done some amazing things to keep his legacy alive.  From 5k’s to fishing tournaments, Aaron’s family has raised more than $100,000 in Aaron’s name and donated every penny to deserving charities!  Over the summer we were humbled & honored to receive a $5,000 donation in PFC Toppen’s honor to support our mission & help make more warrior wishes come true!
 
It was a pleasure to host Aaron’s sisters at the Bears game in his honor & help keep his legacy alive.
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On a frigid day in Chicago, we did our best to stay warm and cheer on the Bears.  Jeremy Langford scored a touchdown with 24 seconds left on the clock to give the Bears a chance to tie the game with a 2 point conversion.  The attempt was unsuccessful & the Bears fell short to the Broncos by the score of 17-15.
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We would like to thank the Toppen family for giving us the opportunity to share Aaron’s legacy & for their support to help us make more warrior wishes come true!
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My dad & I will be back in action Thanksgiving day to make Warrior Wishes come true in Green Bay at the 30th game of our 2015 mission!

ARMY PFC AARON TOPPEN

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On June 9, 2014, at the age of 19, PFC Aaron Toppen lost his life during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.   Aaron grew up in Mokena, attended Mokena district 159 schools and graduated from Lincoln-Way East High School in 2013. From a young age, PFC Aaron Toppen was incredibly patriotic and dreamed of following in the footsteps of both his maternal and paternal grandfathers by enlisting in the military to serve the Country he loved.

PFC Aaron Toppen was an outgoing, friendly, patriotic outdoorsman. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, and spending time with his family and friends. He left an impression on everyone he met with his infectious smile and humor.  Aaron was to deploy on February 9, 2014 and his deployment was put on hold after his father passed away on February 7, 2014 from a massive heart attack.  Aaron was able to get home for his father’s services and was able to say good bye to his family and friends.  He deployed on March 7, 2014.  Aaron lost his life while on a mission with Special Forces in Gaza Kalay, Afghanistan.  Aaron was honored to be asked to join in on this mission.  His last text to his sisters and mother was “I love you guys, I am with the best of the best.”  Aaron was killed by friendly fire alongside of four other United States Army members and one translator from Afghanistan.  This was Aaron’s first deployment, and last.  PFC Toppen was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Bronze Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge and is recommended for the Medal of Valor.

Aaron’s mother, Pam, and sister’s, Amy and Amanda vow to keep his name and memory alive.  Aaron’s friends and family have risenover $100,000 dollars within the last year that has been donated to charities the family has chosen with great care.  The Toppen family was honored to be able to present Operation Warrior Wishes with a $5,000 check this past June, to continue making veterans dreams come true.  The excitement of knowing that the donations go to a good cause is what keeps the family smiling.  

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Game 20 – Warrior Wishes Come True in Chicago

While my dad was busy making Warrior Wishes come true in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to meet up with a Gold Star family in Chicago and made their Warrior Wish come true at the Chicago Bears game in honor of Army SPC John “JD” Amos II.

ARMY SPC JOHN “JD” AMOS II 

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SPC John D Amos II enlisted in the army in 2002.  He decided to join the Army after Sept. 11 2001.  John’s mom signed the needed paperwork so he could take his test early.  After he finishes his basic training at Ft Benning in Georgia he tried to become an Army Ranger, but missed it by one push up.

He left Ft Benning and went to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  He was with the 1st Battalion, 21 Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division ( light). In January of 2004 John was deployed to Iraq.  SPC Amos was on patrol in Kirkuk on April 4th, 2004.   He was in the front of his unit and opened fire on a vehicle that was driving towards them with no intention of stopping.  SPC Amos made the ultimate sacrifice while doing everything he could to protect his unit.  Family members were told that told his actions saved 60+ lives as he didn’t hesitate to open fire on vehicle coming towards them. If he had waited even 4-6 seconds most of his unit would have been killed or wounded.

Army SPC John “JD” Amos received the Bronze star, Purple heart and the newly made Hawaii Medal of honor as he was the first combat casualty from Hawaii, he was just 20 years old.  Family & friends remember JD as always being funny and goofy he always cared about his family and loved being in the Army.

It’s an honor to share his legacy and host surviving family members at the Chicago Bears game in his honor!  Please join us in thanking the Amos family for their service and sacrifices.

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