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Game 1 – Kicking Off Our All32in17 Mission in Chicago!

For those of you who have been following us for a while, you know what “All32in17” stands for.  For those of you who are just learning about our mission, let me explain.

My dad and I started our mission back in 2012.  We were on a mission to be the first father and son in the world to ever attend “ALL 32” NFL stadiums “IN 17” weeks (the length of the NFL season).  However, before we set out on our mission, we made the life changing decision to invite wounded veterans to join us at every game and Operation Warrior Wishes was born!

Over the past 7 years, our organization has hosted nearly 5,000 veterans and Gold Star Families at more than 1,000 events across the country!  It has been an absolute honor to have had the opportunity to give back to those who selflessly serve our country!  We are extremely thankful to everyone who has made our mission possible, because my dad and I never would have been able to make all of these wishes come true without all of your support!  Together we make warrior wishes come true!

So here we are.  7 years ago to the day, my dad and I set out on our very first mission in New York City.  I will never forget arriving in the “Big Apple” and staying up all night taking in the sights and sounds of NYC.  We had the opportunity to host 2 Marines, Chris & Damien at the Giants game.  From that very first game we knew our mission was going to be something special, but we never imagined it would have turned into what it is today.

This year, my dad had a nice easy opening day commute.  Instead of having to travel across the country, he only had to take a quick train ride down town to kickoff our 8th annual All32in17 mission in Chicago.

My dad arrived at the stadium early to take in some of the opening day festivities before he met up with the Warriors before the game.  This year we had the honor of hosting Navy veteran Susan Gaines and Marine Cpl Yuriy Zmysly at opening night of the 2019 NFL season!

Susan proudly served in the Navy for 9 years.  She is a big Mitch Trubisky fan and was nominated by her husband for this experience.

Marine Cpl Yuriy Zmysly served on 2 tours of duty. After returning home from his second deployment (to Iraq), U.S. Marine Corporal Yuriy Zmysly suffered a stroke resulting from complications related to an emergency appendectomy. He fell into a coma for three months. Aimee (his fiancé) was told he would never awaken and that he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

Yuriy did awaken from the coma, however—the first sign of which was him flinching when the lights were turned on in his room—and began his long road to recovery. One year after the stroke, on December 20, 2006, Aimee and Yuriy were married in a courthouse ceremony. 

Cpl Zmysly was introduced to us and nominated by our friends at the Independence Fund.  In my dad’s words, Yuiry is a “Huge Bears Fan.”

My dad met up with the warriors at a pretty cool tailgate outside Soldier field.  The tailgate was hosted by former Chicago Bear Charles “peanut” Tillman.  Throughout the years we have had the opportunity to connect with Peanut multiple times and truly admire all the tings he did on the field, but admire what he did and continues to do off the field even more!  Charles Tillman is a true humanitarian and makes the world a better place every day with his Cornerstone Foundation.

The mission of the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation is to provide opportunities and resources to children and their families who are in need. Since 2005, Charles Tillman’s charitable efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of critically and chronically ill children and their families. We highly recommend you check it out!  www.CharlesTillman.org

Peanut always takes time to show those who have served and sacrificed his appreciation for their service.  We cannot thank him enough for inviting us to host the warriors at his tailgate.

Unfortunately the Bears fell to the Packers in a lackluster football game.  But despite the loss, the warriors had an unforgettable experience!

Operation Warrior Wishes will be hosting warriors at every Bears home game this year thanks to our friends at Sebern Custom Homes and Grandview Capital.  We are extremely thankful for their support!

Most importantly we want to thank Susan & Yuiry for your selfless service and sacrifices!  It was an honor to host you!

After the game my dad made his way back home to for a quick night’s sleep before jumping right back on the train to get back to the city.  Chicago Bears legend, and follower of our mission, Brian Urlacher had offered to sign some 8×10’s for us while he was in town.  We will be giving one of the signed pictures to each of the veterans we host at the Bears games all season long!  Yuiry couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet him, so he joined my dad at the hotel and got to hang out with the Chicago Bears Hall of Fame Linebacker too!  As a thank you we gave Brian one of our new Warrior Wishes caps.  We cannot thank him enough for his support and look forward to having him join us at next years golf scramble!

My dad will be back in action this weekend.  He will be flying out to Boston Saturday afternoon and will be making Warrior Wishes come true at the New England Patriots home opener on Sunday!  Stay tuned for more details!

 

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Game 21 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Carolina!

My dad made his way to the Atlanta airport after making Warrior Wishes come true courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons.  Funny thing is, he didn’t go there to fly anywhere, he made his way to the airport to get some rest before catching his 6:30am bus to Charlotte.

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He arrived in Charlotte around noon & promptly made his way over to the NASCAR Hall Of Fame to meet up with the warriors & take a tour of the museum.
We were honored to be hosting Army SPC Christopher Trumbull Jr, Army SSG Christopher Price & Army Master SGT Cedric King at the Carolina Panthers game & make their Warrior Wishes come true!  (Meet the Warriors below)
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Here are some of our favorite Carolina memories making Warrior Wishes come true.
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 As I mentioned before, we toured the NASCAR Hall of Fame with the Warriors before the game.  Past guest Army warrior Frank Thompson joined us on the tour as well.
The Hall of Fame is a 150,000-square-foot interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue is designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike.  It opened May 11, 2010 and includes artifacts, interactive exhibits, and a 278-person state-of-the-art theater.  The goal of the facility is to honor NASCAR icons and create an enduring tribute to the drivers, crew members, team owners and others that have impacted the sport in the past, present and future.  It was an awesome meeting place to get to know the Warriors.
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The weather was not very cooperative as it was pouring down rain pretty much all day, but that didn’t put a damper on the fun.  Thankfully our friend Joe, who is now our “Official Charlotte Tailgate” host, came prepared with tents so everyone was able to stay dry while filling up on food before the game.
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Joe organized “VanMan” to pick us up from the tailgate & escorted the warriors to the stadium in a custom Panthers autographed vehicle.  It was a great way to arrive in style & definitely added to the overall experience.
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Over the summer we congratulated Charles “Peanut” Tillman on Twitter for graduating with his masters degree & wished him the best with his new team. Tillman was traded in the offseason from Chicago to Carolina & as a Bears fan it was tough to see him go.  He is one of the best both on and off the field.  In fact, Tillman was named the 2014 “Walter Payton Man of the Year.”  The award is the only league honor that recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.
Tillman quickly responded to our message on Twitter & offered to help us make Warrior Wishes come true in Carolina & boy did he ever!  His father in law served our country for more than 30 years, Charles has great appreciation for our nation’s military & thanks to him & his wife’s generosity the warriors had the opportunity of a lifetime by getting to watch the game from a luxury suite!
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Tillman is no stranger to making dreams come true, he & his wife, Jackie, are the founders of the Cornerstone Foundation.  An organization with a mission to provide opportunities and resources to children and their families who are in need. Since 2005, Charles Tillman’s charitable efforts have impacted the lives of thousands of critically and chronically ill children and their families.
It was an incredible experience for the Warriors & he wasn’t done yet.  During the 1st quarter of the game, Tillman got his first interception as a Carolina Panther & gave the Warriors something to cheer about!
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The Panthers dominated the game as the rain kept falling, but let their lead slip away late in the 4th quarter.  The game ended up in overtime.  After teams traded field goals in OT, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted an Andrew luck pass to give the panthers great field possession and set up a game winning field goal!
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We would like to thank The NASCAR Hall of fame for providing the pregame tour, New Era Cap for providing Panthers caps for the Warriors, Joe & his tailgate crew for hosting us & providing transportation to the stadium, and thanks to Charles Tillman & his wife for not only making warrior wishes come true in a “suite way” but for all they do to make the world a better place & inspire others by their actions.  Most importantly of all, thanks to the Warriors for your service & sacrifices, we truly hope you enjoyed the day & the memories last a lifetime!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
My dad is back on the bus heading to Atlanta to jump on a flight back to Chicago before heading out to Cincinnati to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Bengals game for our 22nd time this season!

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SSG CHRISTOPHER PRICE

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SSGT Christopher Price was born in Flushing New York & moved to Durham, North Carolina when he was 5.
Christopher joined the Army in Feb 2003 and served a total of 9 ½ years. After completion of infantryman school at Fort Benning. SSGT Price was assigned to 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. SSGT Price served 2 tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan.

On August 22, 2003, while on patrol in IRAQ. SSGT Price and his platoon stop to investigate a grenade being thrown at one of their vehicles. While interviewing the locals SGT Price and SPC Tyrone were both shot by a sniper. The bullet travelled through SPC Tyrone’s arm before hitting SSGT Price in his Kevlar helmet. SSGT Price spent one year recovering from the injury before being cleared to deploy with his unit to Afghanistan.

Due to his injury’s SGT Price retired on September 23, 2012. He is currently attending Carolina School of Broadcasting to become a radio sports broadcaster and videographer.

ARMY SPC CHRISTOPHER TRUMBULL JR.

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SPC Christopher Trumbull Jr was born and raised in North Carolina. After the events on 9/11, Chris made the decision to join the Army and defend our country. Trumbull served in the United States Army for 8 years until he was medically retired on April 15th, 2014.

He served on deployment to Afghanistan from 2009-2010 & has been stationed at Ft. Bragg, Korea, Ft. Irwin and Ft Benning.

Trumbull is now a full time student at FTCC in the I-Car program & loves anything Carolina Panthers. He enjoys spending time with his kids, watching movies, the walking dead and playing video games.

In Christopher’s nomination, we were told that his favorite thing in the world is Football. He loves the Carolina Panthers & his wardrobe is all Panthers clothing. Trumbull had never been to a panthers game, Until now. It was an honor to host him at his first ever game and thank him for his service by making his Warrior Wish come true!

ARMY MASTER SGT CEDRIC KING

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Master Sergeant Cedric King has been serving in the United States Army since 1995.

On July 25th 2012 Cedric was serving in Afghanistan. At the time he was a platoon Sargent & As usual, he received the coordinates of where to go, just like every day, setting out 10-15 minutes later and getting fired upon, which was nothing new. The only thing different on that particular day was that this was a new sector.

Cedric’s team happened to be covering for another platoon. They were bringing a group of guys to cover when Cedric’s right foot stepped on an IED.

He didn’t know what had happened. In fact, he thought at first that he had just been blown back by the blast. The men around him were hurt too, but Cedric received the majority of the injuries, although at the time, he didn’t realize it.

He said, “I was really upset that I didn’t get a chance to finish getting the guys who were shooting at us,” but he said that wore off soon and started gasping for air. He looked at his body and quickly realized that it was mangled. Soon, the helicopter arrived to take Cedric and the other injured men to the closest base, Kandahar. Cedric said that once at the army base, he had no recollection of anything until he woke up a week later on August 1 at Walter Reed.

Cedric lost both of his legs above the knee in the blast. He credits his Family and faith for motivating him to always push his limits and never give up. “These two elements helped me when I didn’t want to get up. Faith helps me believe in a brighter future. Faith keeps me going—this didn’t happen for nothing. I believe in a higher power who loves me enough to say, I’m not doing this to hurt you, I’m doing this to help you.’”

Master Sergeant King is a recipient of the Bronze Star medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and more.  He hails from North Carolina, is married and loves being a dad to his two daughters. We were honored to host Master SGT King at the ESPY awards this summer. He is one of the biggest Panthers fans & most inspiring people we have ever met. It was great catching up with him and an honor to host him at the Panthers game!