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Game 12 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Buffalo!

After kicking off week 4 of our 8th Annual “All32in17” mission in Green Bay…

My dad made his way back home to meet up with Army Sgt James Fawbush and his wife for lunch at Giordano’s. They arrived in town early and are our guests for the Sunday afternoon Bears game.

Eventually my dad made his way back home to get a good night sleep before heading back to O’Hare airport Saturday evening to catch his flight to Buffalo.

We have made some unforgettable memories in Buffalo throughout the years. My personal favorites include taking a tour of New Era, Watching Marcel Dareus hug one of the warriors on the sidelines and tailgating with Jim Kelly!

Upon arrival at the Buffalo/Niagra airport, my dad found a comfortable bench to rest up on and got a “good night sleep.”  First thing in the morning he grabbed an Uber to New Era stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, to meet up with the Warriors at Danny’s South for breakfast.

Today we had the honor of hosting Army Veterans Trendon Choe, David Timmerman and Jordan Brenden at the Bills game.

Sgt Trendon Choe served as a 13F, Fire Support Specialist for over 6 years in the US Army with the 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry Unit,10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, NY. As a fire support specialist his primarily responsible was for the intelligence activities of the Army’s field artillery team. His rank was Sergeant, where he led a COLT Team and Fire Support Team in support of combat operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He now works for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in Syracuse, where he lives with his Wife Valarie, and children Amara and Aspen.

Trendon actually nominated his Hero, his mom, for this experience! Trendon reaches out and said “ my mother has been my rock since joining the US Army. She has been there to support through deployments, and post deployments. She is a HUGE Buffalo Bills fan. I would love the honor to be able to provide a ‘special day’ for her, with her, at ‘The Ralph’ (now New Era) Stadium.” It’s an absolute honor to make this wish come true!

Army SSG David Timmerman was nominated for this experience by his brother in law, who says David is his Hero! SSG Timmerman proudly served our country for more than 18 years!

SSG Timmerman actually nominated SSG Jordan Brenden for the Bills experience. I’m David’s words “Jordan is preparing for his retirement from the Army. He served admirably, and is the epitome of great leadership. SSG Brenden is always there for his Soldiers on or off duty. He holds a special place in my heart because he saved my son’s life.”

It was an absolute honor to hast these amazing men and make their Warrior Wishes come true!

The group got to know each other over a quick meal at Danny’s South before heading over to a very special tailgate surprise. Danny’s South is the best place to hang out before and after Bills games. They have been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true since 2013 and we cannot thank them enough for their support!

Before making their way into the stadium, my dad led the group to Jim Kelly’s Tailgate! Jim Kelly is the Buffalo Bills legendary Hall of Fame Quarterback! He has been helping us make Warrior Wishes come true since we started our mission in 2012!

Jim is an inspiration, he never gives up and always takes his time to show his appreciation to those who sacrifice and serve. Today was no different. We presented the warriors with authentic Jim Kelly jerseys and Jim personally signed each of them for the warriors!

The group had the opportunity to hang out at the tailgate for a while before the game and also got to meet one of Jim’s friends, Bills Hall of Fame Running Back Thurman Thomas!

Eventually they made their way to their 2nd row seats behind the Bills bench to watch the undefeated Patriots kick things off against the undefeated Buffalo Bills!

Things didn’t look good for the Bills early on, as the Patriots jumped out to a very early 13-0 lead after a blocked punt TD. But the Bills defense stepped up and shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots. They only allowed 3 more points the rest of the game! Unfortunately the Bills offense couldn’t come thru and the Bills fell short losing to the Patriots by the score of 16-10 and suffered their first loss of the season.

Despite the loss, it was an unforgettable day for everyone involved.  In SSG Brendan’s words it was an “Opportunity of a lifetime.”

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Army SGT Trendon Choe, Army SSG David Timmerman and Army SSG Jordan Brenden for their selfless service and sacrifices. You guys are appreciated and will never be forgotten!

After the game we “named our price” for a hotel so my dad could get a good night sleep before catching his early morning bus to Pittsburgh to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Steelers game.  Stay tuned for more details…

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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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Warrior Wishes Come True at The 2016 Merlin Olsen Hall of Fame Luncheon!

After a fun night in San Francisco hosting heroes at the MaddenBowl & celebrating Jim Brown’s 80th birthday with Cedric, it was time to recognize these Warriors for their service & sacrifices. 

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Every year the NFL Hall of Fame puts on the Merlin Olsen Hall of Fame Luncheon during Superbowl week.  Hundreds of NFL hall of famers & Players gather to celebrate the Gold Jacket & share what it means to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame over lunch.  It’s one of the most desired events to be at during Superbowl week! 

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The Event was held at the Hilton in downtown San Francisco.  Autograph hounds swarmed the hotel lobby hoping for the chance to meet some of the NFL’s best.  We were lucky enough to be attending the event and got a front row seat to watch all the Gold Jackets walk in.  Many of them stopped to meet the warriors before the event kicked off.

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Once it was time to go in, we couldn’t help but notice the Hall of Fame logo made from chocolate on everyone plate.  It was so cool that nobody wanted to eat it, it was awesome!

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We have been very thankful to have teamed up with the Hall of Fame over the past few years to host Warriors at the event, but this year they went way above & beyond by recognizing Wes, Bryan, Julio & Cedric during the event!  

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I had tears in my eyes watching the Warriors receive a standing ovation from everyone at the event.  It was a moment that we will never forget.  

Speaking of unforgettable moments…  Cedric, Bryan, Wes & Julio had the time of their lives getting to hang out with some of the games biggest legends!  Joe Namath, Marcus Allen, Don Shula, Jerome Bettis, Kurt Warner, Jerry Jones, and many more!  It was an experience of a lifetime!  

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We would like to thank the Pro Football Hall of Fame for helping us recognize these Warriors for their service & sacrifices & for helping us make their warrior wishes come true!  

After the event we hung out to meet a few more Hall of Famers including Rod Woodson & James Lofton.  Woodson Let the guys try on his Hall of Fame Ring!

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Then we said our goodbyes to Bryan, Wes & Julio.  Then helped Cedric get an uber out to Santa Clara to pick up his wife from the airport.

Once Cedric was on his way to pick up his wife, my dad & I met up with Lou for a few hours at a party to honor Brett Favre & Tiki Barber. 

After snapping a pic with Brett we then made our way across town to Fort Mason where we made warrior wishes come true at the ESPN party!  

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It was one of the craziest memory filled 2 days of making warrior wishes come true ever!  

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY MASTER SGT CEDRIC KING

ARMY CPL WESLEY LEON-BARRIENTOS

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Army CPL Wesley Leon-Barrientos was deployed to Iraq in December 2007. While supporting his team on an air assault mission near Iskandariah, his team discovered and destroyed several car bombs and a weapons cache. Roadside bombs were encountered on the return trip to base and the convoy was diverted for security purposes.

While maneuvering around a suspected bomb, the truck which was carrying CPL Leon-Barrientos rolled over a pressure plate IED causing an explosion to rip through the vehicle. Sitting directly behind the driver, Wesley lost his left leg and right foot in the blast and suffered severe calf injuries as well as a broken jaw. After being airlifted by a Blackhawk helicopter, CPL Leon-Barrientos fell unconscious and awoke two days later in Germany where he was stabilized for transport to Walter Reed.

ARMY SGT BRIAN JERGENS

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Army Sergeant Brian Jergens was on his first deployment when he lost both of his legs below the knee and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, internal organ damage, a broken neck, and damage to his right elbow in an IED blast in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2011.

An Army Medic, SGT Jergens was the driver of the fourth HMMWV in a convoy that day, and was thrown from the vehicle. Life-saving measures performed by his teammates prepared him for medevac to Tarin Kowt Hospital and then the Kandahar Airfield Hospital. Next transported to Bagram Air Force Base, Brian would also be treated in Landstuhl, Germany before coming stateside. Arriving at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX on August 14, 2012, Brian remained there until September 19, 2012.

MARINE SGT JULIO TORRES

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I signed up for the Marine Corps at the age of 17 out of Bakersfield California. I was inbound to boot camp on September 17, 2001. My military occupational skill was an Anti-Tank Assaultman/ Demolition Expert in the Infantry, it has forever changed my life. I ended up deploying to Iraq with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines Kilo company from Kuwait to Baghdad and ended that tour in Karbala in 2003. I deployed once more in 2004 with 3/7 Kilo Company to Al Qaim in Iraq near the Syrian Border and Euphrates River. After that I served 3 years as a field instructor at Edson Range teaching thousands of recruits on field survival. Then I went on to 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, which I deployed to Okinawa Japan in 2009 on the 31st MEU training with military forces from, Japan, Philippines, Australia and Thailand. April of 2013 I was Medically Retired after 11 years and 7 months of active service. Currently, I train Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Military Sexual Trauma at Wounded Heroes Fund, a local Non-Profit Organization in Bakersfield and I am also one of the voices of our podcast OVERWATCH. Outdoor recreation with veterans is what I truly enjoy. These activities helps me cope with the daily struggles of Combat PTSD. Helping veterans is my passion, if no one is willing to help, I definitely will. I am fixated on ending the social stigma of our Heroes committing suicide, 22 a day to be exact. I am the future and the voice for all my brothers and sisters.