Posted on

Game 20 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

If you remember, we kicked off our 2016 mission to honor Military Warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season back in September when we hosted heroes opening night in Denver.  


Since then, we have made Warrior Wishes come true at 19 NFL games in only 7 weeks!!!  

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

We have made some unforgettable memories hosting heroes in Denver at Mile High Stadium!

img_6588 img_6589 img_6593 img_6594 img_6597 img_6598 img_6578 img_6563

My dad and I have never big fans of the quick trips in and out of cities, because it really doesn’t give us enough time to get to know the warriors. But unfortunately this 2nd trip to Denver is one of those.  My dad’s flight to Denver didn’t land til after 2:00 PM on Monday afternoon.  From there he had a 40 minute train ride to get downtown to Elway’s where he met up with Army SGT Lucas Oppelt.  


SGT Oppelt & his 10 year old son had just started eating when my dad arrived. He quickly learned how big of Broncos fans they were as they were both wearing Peyton Manning jerseys.  SGT Oppelt’s sons name was Peyton!  They enjoyed getting to know each other over a delicious meal at Elway’s restaurant, which is the one and only place in Denver to go to before or after a Broncos game!  


After dinner, Once they found Lucas’ truck, they made their way to “Mile High” stadium.  Upon arrival, my dad immediately went to the box office to swap out our tickets for accessible seating. The tickets we bought were not bad, 4th row in the upper deck.  Because there is limited ADA seating, they gave SGT Oppelt the only seats they had available which were in the FRONT ROW!!!


Needless to say, Lucas and his son had the experience of a lifetime watching their Broncos from the Front Row behind the Texans bench!  My dad went down there and sat with them for a few minutes a couple of times and said that they were clearly some of the biggest Broncos fans he had seen, cheering & yelling for Home Town team.  


The Broncos dominated the entire game & gave the father & son plenty to cheer about as they held Houston, and former Bronco QB Brock Osweiler to Field Goals while Denver scored touchdowns . The Texans were really never in it and Denver rolled to a 27-9 victory. 


Ethan and The entire Customer Service Dept for the Broncos has been amazing all 4 years of our Warrior Wishes mission.They always go the “extra mile ” for the Warriors.  Just like they did for Sgt Gabe Martinez earlier this year, Sam from customer service provided Lucas a Free jersey coupon from Team Store.


My dad met back up with SGT Oppelt & his son After the game.  They hung around until the field cleared, watching players and cheerleaders head to the locker room.  My dad eventually walked Lucas & Peyton to their car, thanked Lucas for his service one last time, and then headed for the train to the airport for “a good nights sleep” before flying back to Chicago in morning.  



Operation warrior wishes would like to thank Elways Restaurant for the Pre Game Meal , New Era for the Broncos caps, The Chive for the KCCO shirts and the Denver Broncos for their great customer service, Jersey & seat upgrade!

small_elwayslogo-dwntwn2sig keep-calm-chive-on_full New Era broncos


But course, the BIGGEST THANKS goes to Army Sgt Lucas Oppelt, and his family, for his service & sacrifices!  

My dad flies home in the morning to get ready to make a WWII Warriors Wish come true at the World Series & prepare for next weeks games in Nashville, Indianapolis & Chicago.  Stay tuned for more details!  



Sgt. Lucas Oppelt is a airborne combat line medic with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg North Carolina. He was injured in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan May 26, 2012 while on a dismounted foot patrol with his company. Lucas stepped on a pressure plate IED(Improvised Explosive Device), detonating it and suffered a traumatic right leg amputation below the knee. He also sustained serious injuries to his left leg and minor injuries to both arms. This was Lucas’ second deployment, with a 15 month tour in Iraq 2006-2007 with 3-4 Cavalry out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, 25th ID.


Lucas is from Mishawaka, IN and attended Mishawaka High school. He met his wife, Amy while they were both serving in the Army. They have two children, Peyton and Lily. The family is residing at Walter Reed NMMC through the duration of Lucas’ inpatient and outpatient recovery. They are adjusting to their new life in Maryland.


Lucas is currently a full-time college student pursuing his Bachelors in Engineering. He is an avid hunter, fly fisherman, and archer. He loves sports, especially football.  He was nominated by his wife to go to the Broncos game.  She Said he He is a dedicated fan that never misses either team’s games.  It was a true honor to have the opportunity to host this inspirational young man.  We hope he had an experience with his son that he will never forget!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

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

Posted on

Game 1 – Kicking Things Off Making Mile High Memories In Denver!

Over the next 4 months, my dad will travel more than 30,000 miles to host and honor military heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season.  In fact, he has 44 games on the schedule & will do just about anything to put a smile on a warriors face.

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule




Corporal Gabriel Martinez and his wife, Kayla, were married only three months before Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) in October 2010. Just one month later, on Thanksgiving Day, Gabe called Kayla with the devastating news that he had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and medevaced out with one of his best friends. Both men lost their legs.Gabe and Kayla Martinez

The Semper Fi Fund supported Gabe’s family while they were with Gabe in the hospital in Bethesda, MD so that they could remain by his side when he needed them most without added financial pressure. The Semper Fi Fund
also helped Gabe and Kayla move their belongings to their new home in California and provided additional assistance to Gabe’s family, allowing them to visit him when he left the hospital without having to worry about financial repercussions. Gabe was even able to purchase specialized athletic equipment and an adaptive truck, thanks to the assistance of the Semper Fi Fund.

Despite the loss of his legs, Gabe continues to be an extremely positive young man, always in a good mood and wearing a smile! In no time at all, Gabe learned to walk again on his new legs and has since been very busy rock climbing, skiing, biking and handcycling. He is also an active member of Team Semper Fi.Gabriel Martinez on hand cycle

However, Gabe does still face certain difficulties of walking on prosthetic legs. For example, he sometimes has trouble bending down to pick things up. In 2011, to help him in his daily life, Gabe received a service dog that he named Wonka. Wonka can pick things up for Gabe and open doors when Gabe is in his wheelchair. Wonka can even fetch a drink from the refrigerator! In early 2012, Wonka became ill due to something that he had ingested. The Semper Fi Fund’s Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program took care of veterinary expenses, as well as necessities for Wonka, such as dog food. Wonka quickly returned to health and went back to assisting Gabe, who says he “feels blessed” to have a friend like Wonka in his life.

While heroically standing by Gabe’s side and helping him during recovery, Kayla also managed to accomplish milestones of her own. In May 2011, Kayla received her bachelor’s degree. She is also very active at the hospital helping other young wives of injured service members deal with the new challenges they face. She wants to make sure they know they’re not alone.

On October 30, 2012, Gabe and Kayla celebrated the birth of their first child – their beautiful daughter, Madelynn Grace Martinez.

Gabe is an inspiration to us all. He says his favorite quote is, “Tough times don’t last, but tough Marines do.” In the case of this Marine, that is surely a fact.




Cpl. Broesch enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17. As soon as he turned 18 and graduated from High School he went to boot camp. He spent 4 years on active duty as an 351, Antitank Assault Man, in places like Okinawa and almost 2 years in Rota, Spain. Once his enlistment was up he returned to Idaho, to be recalled for Desert Storm, for a very brief time. He came back to Idaho, went to the University of Idaho and earned his B.S. in Environmental Science while caring for a wife and young daughter. He worked as an Environmental Specialist with the County and served on the State Hazmat Team. In 2002 he joined the Idaho National Guard because he still had a strong desire to serve his country. In 2004 he deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq with the HHC 116th Engr. Bn. as a 74D. While going out on a mission on Oct 26, 2005 he was in HMMVEE accident during which he suffered among other things a broken neck and back. After he returned home and got back on the mend he decided to volunteer to go to Iraq with another unit out of California that needed some help. So in 2007 he left again for Iraq this time as a 11B January 23, 2008 he was on a mission and blew out his knee and re-injured his neck and back. This was the final straw for his body. He underwent back surgery, neck surgery, wrist surgery, knee surgery, he suffered a TBI and bi-lateral hearing loss. He has spent the last 8 years in physical therapy. He was medically retired in April 2014 with almost 19 years of service spanning 4 decades.

In 2011 Jerry and his family were honored when they were chosen as the Army Family of the Year and the Military Family of the year by the National Military Family Association. This was the first time a National Guard Family has ever been recognized.


Jerry lives in North Idaho where he was born and raised. He and his wife have been together for 26 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. They have a 21 year old daughter who is married and has their 2 year old grandson. Jerry loves spending time with his family, fishing and camping.

Some of his awards include: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon w/1 star, Letter of Appreciation (3rd award), Meritorious Mast (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon, USN Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

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

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

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

Posted on

Game 43 – Warrior Wishes Come True at the AFC Championship Game!

Not many people can say that their first NFL game ever is a thrilling AFC Championship game in which your favorite team wins and goes to the Super Bowl.  However, Operation Warrior Wishes is extremely proud to have provided that very experience for 82nd Airborne Army SFC Nicholas Dighans and his wife, Holli. 


We started this experience on Thursday Night when we surprised this 14 year, 5 deployment wounded veteran -with the help of Holli & his favorite restaurant, Outback Steakhouse.


We set up a dinner with their friends in their hometown  Bozeman, Montana. At dinner, Nick got a phone call from “a radio station” (us) to win free dinner.  Not only did he win dinner but when told he was going to Broncos game Sunday, replied “Is this a joke ?”

Well it was no joke.  Saturday morning SFC Dighans & his wife made the 8 hour drive to Denver & got a good night sleep, thanks to our friends at the luxurious Westin Westminster hotel, before their big day.


I was able to score $19 airfare from Chicago to Denver 3 weeks ago with the hopes that Denver would make it to the AFC Championship game.  And thankfully they did.  So for less than $20 my dad flew to Denver Saturday nightto make SFC Dighans warrior wish come true.  


Of course, he slept at the airport upon arrival in Denver to rest up for the day. Sunday morning, my dad met up with SFC Dighans for a delicious brunch thanks to  Elways restaurant. 


From there they headed to Sports Authority Field aka “Mile High” to tailgate before watching the Broncos & Patriots face off for a conference championship & a trip to San Francisco to play in the Super Bowl!  


Not many people gave the Broncos a chance against Tom Brady & the Pats.  The Patriots were the clear favorite and the aging Peyton Manning had clearly lost a step over the years.  But in the NFL anything can happen on any given Sunday.

As SFC Dighans & his wife made their way in the stadium, my dad made friends with tailgaters in the parking lot to watch the game. 


The battle between Manning & Brady was underway.  Manning & the Broncos controlled the game.  The Broncos Defense kept Brady in check much of the game.  

The Broncos were up by 8 late in the 4th quarter.  Brady connected with Gronkowski on a 4th & long to keep their season alive.  Just a few plays later connected with him again, this time in the end zone!  Down 2, because of an early missed extra point, the Pats were forced into going for a dramatic 2 point conversion attempt.  

Brady took the snap & fired a pass over the middle to Edelman.  The ball was tipped into the air & intercepted!  Mile High stadium erupted into cheers and was literally rocking!  SFC Dighans & Broncos fans worldwide celebrated the victory as their team was headed to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco!!! 


After the game my dad met back up with Nick & his wife outside the stadium by the players tunnel to celebrate the victory with the team.  Von Miller ran out & high fived all the fans!  


The Dighans thanked us for the once in a lifetime experience & made their way back to the hotel.  My dad made his way back to the airport.  He had to catch a 7am flight to Dallas, that I booked for $36, to make warrior wishes come true at Monday nights Dallas Stars game!

We would like to thank The Westin Westminster hotel for providing SFC Dighans with luxurious accommodations, Elway’s Downtown for providing a delicious lunch before the game, Outback Steakhouse for helping us surprise Nick with this opportunity & New Era Cap for providing Broncos caps!  Most importantly, thanks to SFC Dighans for your service & sacrifices to our country! 


Next stop Super Bowl 50!!!



SFC (Ret.) Nick Dighans from Belgrade, Montana served in the U.S Army for 14.5 years before being medically retired. He left for basic training right after graduating high school to follow in his father’s footsteps of serving our country. During his time in service he completed 5 combat tours ( 3 to Iraq, 2 to Afghanistan) & earned numerous awards including 2 bronze stars. He always believed that he would do a full 20 year + career in the army because that is where he belonged but unfortunately his numerous combat tours took their toll resulting in his early medical retirement. He now lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife and two daughters spending his time fly fishing and enjoying his family.