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Game 27 – Warrior Wishes Come True At The Vikings Game!

After my dad’s “easy week” where we made wishes come true in Denver, DC, Chicago & Nashville.

My dad kicked off week 8 of our 2019 “All32in17” mission in Minneapolis.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, he took a 10 hour bus to Nashville on Sunday morning to make wishes come true at the Titans game, a 2 hour bus to Chattanooga Sunday evening to participate in the “Honor the Sacrifice golf tournament and bussed 12 hours back to Chicago Monday evening

He enjoyed a day off and hung out with the grandkids on Wednesday.  And made his way back downtown Wednesday night to catch his 8 plus hour bus ride to Minneapolis. and he will have another 8 plus hour bus ride back home on Friday. That’s 40+ hours on the bus this week!

It’s obviously not glamorous, but my dad is willing to save money by taking the bus so we can use the money we raise on our mission & not travel expenses. We booked travel to nearly 50 NFL games this season for less than $2500!

My dad arrived in Minneapolis Thursday morning around 9am. He roamed the streets of Minneapolis reminiscing about the time we got lost after our first Vikings game as he passed the parking garage we had parked in when we eventually found our car…  We have made a lot of memories in Minnesota. We have seen the Vikings play at the Metrodome, TCF Stadium & Their new US Bank stadium…

We also had the honor of making Warrior Wishes come true at Super Bowl LII…

I personally will never forget tailgating with the “VWO,” or seeing the look on Jeremy & Andrew’s faces when one of the coaches tossed them footballs to take home with them as we watched pregame warm ups from the sidelines. It was an awesome moment!

And last year I had the opportunity to take Xander, my son, to his first NFL game and make Warrior wishes come true at US Bank stadium! Another memory I will never forget.

Today we had the honor of hosting Army Sgt Brittain Drews and Army SSG Brian Wunderlich at the Vikings game.

Sgt Drew’s was nominated by his battle buddy, Lukas. Lukas says “Drews is a great man and he taught me a lot when he was still in and he saved my life. My family and I will always be thankful for that.” Brittain served 4 years and deployed to Afghanistan once, earning the combat infantry badge. It was an honor to show our appreciation for his service and sacrifices by hosting him at the Vikings game!

SSG Wunderlich was nominated to us by his wife. She told us it would be a dream come true for Brian to attend a Vikings game at US Bank stadium, something he has never done before. Brian is a die hard Vikings fan who never misses a game on TV. He has been serving since 2004, been deployed 3 times and continues to serve in the Army National Guard to this day. It was an honor to host Brian and his dad and make his warrior wish come true!

My dad met up with SSG Wunderlich and his dad for a delicious pregame buffet thanks to our friends at Day Block Brewery.  Sgt Drew’s was running a little late so we had the honor of hosting SSG Carlson & Smith, a few warriors he met outside the stadium, to join him for a bite to eat before the game too.

Day Block Brewery is a downtown Minneapolis restaurant innovating on the most iconic duo–craft beer & pizza. Toss in happy hours, weekly live music & Sunday Breakfast Specials, this downtown brewery checks all the boxes every day of the week. We appreciate their support! Make sure to stop by next time you’re in Minneapolis!

As game time approached, everyone made their way over to the stadium through the VWO (Vikings World Order) to watch the Redskins and Vikings kick things off. The VWO is a group of the wildest and craziest Vikings fans you will ever meet!

The Redskins and Vikings offenses got off to slow starts. Both teams traded field goals twice before Dalvin Cook was finally able to punch the ball into the end zone just before half to score the only Touchdown of the game.  It ended up being a field goal fest. Before everything was said and done, the Redskins made 3 and the Vikings made 4. The Vikings ultimately won 19-9.

The warriors enjoyed the win from the front row of the upper deck!

Operation Warrior wishes would like to thank Britain and Brian for their service and sacrifices! In the words of Les, Brian’s dad, “It was an awesome night!”

My dad’s night was about to be more awesome… after the game he jumped back on the bus and slept all the way to Chicago.  Thankfully he will get a day to rest up before his last bus ride for a couple of weeks. He will be on an overnight greyhound to Kansas City to make Warrior Wishes come true at Sunday’s Chiefs game…

And flys from KC to Pittsburgh Monday morning to make wishes come true at Monday’s Steelers game. Stay tuned…

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Warrior Wishes Come True at the Final Four Championship Game!

Operation Warrior Wishes was honored to host Army Spc Jack Zimmerman at the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship game!

SPC (Ret.) Jack Zimmerman grew up in the small town of Cleveland, MN. He played football, basketball, baseball, hunted, archery, trained dogs, fished, rode snowmobiles, worked on his truck, and spent time with his friends and family. He went to college to be an electrician, and then worked for a company wiring a hospital, school, and justice center.

Jack decided to join the military because it has been something he always wanted to do. He saw the difference his grandfather made by fighting, and he didn’t want that work to go to waste.

Jack joined the army on September 2, 2009 and reported to Fort Benning, GA where he completed basic training and Airborne School. He joined his unit (2/502 101st Airborne Division) in Fort Campbell, KY in February 2010. In March, he did his JRTC training at Fort Polk before deploying on June 6 to Afghanistan. His unit pushed hard, fought hard, and accomplished all their objectives, plus some.

On February 6, 2010, he took his mid-tour leave and flew home to Minnesota. His fiancé dropped him off at the airport on February 23rd to return back to Afghanistan.

On March 9th, at 10:30 am, he was on his way back to his COP after a dismounted patrol. As they began to take fire, he was running for cover and stepped on an IED.  He was rushed to Kandahar Airfield where his legs were amputated. He then went to Belgram and Landstuhl before arriving at Brooke Army Medical Center. He spent eight weeks in the hospital before being discharged.  He worked out daily at the San Antonio Center for the Intrepid during his recovery.

He is a bilateral-above-the-knee amputee. His right hand is nonfunctional, and three fingers are amputated. Nonetheless, Jack is very positive and has worked hard to get better and achieve his goals.

His wife Megan was by his side every day when he was at BAMC. She was in school when he was injured and put her classes on hold, and has since graduated. Megan’s encouragement gives Jack the confidence he can accomplish anything. His parents and parents-in-law have also been huge in his recovery, along with his brother and brother-in-law.

Jack looks forward to resuming a normal life  — working, raising a family, and enjoying hunting, sled hockey, basketball, and archery. He, also wants to share his story with others so he is able to motivate and inspire others to dream again.

It was an honor to have the opportunity to show our appreciation to Jack for his service, sacrifices and inspirational attitude!

Source : http://www.helpingahero.org/our-heroes/spc-ret-jack-zimmerman-usa

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Game 55 – Warriors Have “One Of The Best Days Of Their Lives” at Super Bowl LII!

After an unforgettable week of making warrior Wishes come true during Super Bowl week in Minnesota, you would not think it could get any better… but we were just getting started!

Super Bowl Weekend turned out to be an incredible experience for 4 inspirational warriors. We were honored to be hosting Marine Cpl Carlos Garcia, Army Sgt John Friesel, Navy Seal Chris Serle & Army Sgt Greg Hedrick at the “Big Game.”

MEET THE WARRIORS 

MARINE CPL CARLOS GARCIA

Marine Corporal Carlos Garcia was on his first deployment when he was severely injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Sangin, Afghanistan on Nov. 20, 2010.  While on a foot patrol with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Cpl Garcia was in a familiar area near a canal that was frequently used by his squad when he stepped on an unidentified IED. The resulting injuries were so severe that both of his legs required amputations above the knee.

See how big of an Eagles fan Carlos is here!

ARMY SSG JOHN KRIESEL

On December 2006 the vehicle Kriesel and four of his comrades were riding in encountered a 200 lb. Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The blast killed two of Kriesel’s best friends and he was severely injured, losing both legs, suffering numerous broken bones and internal injuries. He was transported to two field hospitals in Iraq where he died three times on the operating table before doctors saved his life. He woke up in Walter Reed Army Medical Center after an 8-day medically induced coma where he learned about the death of his two comrades and the severity of his injuries.  Nine months after his near-death experience in Iraq, John returned to Minnesota to begin his new life. His transition from military to civilian life offered many challenges, humor allowed him to bounce back stronger than ever.

Learn More About SGT Kriesel, buy his book & get inspired here!

NAVY SEAL CHRIS SERLE

Chris Serle was a Navy SEAL on team 2 on his first deployment, when the worst thing imaginable happened. Chris’s best friend who was walking next to him stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost both of his legs- and Chris lost the vision in one of his eyes. Both men were unable to continue their service in the military, and are now medically retired with Purple Hearts. Chris continued on with his education in order to continue helping people, and was just accepted into Eastern Virginia Medical School to start their program this summer to become a doctor. Chris has been an Eagles fan all his life & having the chance to see his team in the Super Bowl was a dream come True!

ARMY SGT GREG HEDRICK

Greg served two deployments in Iraq and a third in Afghanistan. On September 20, 2012, he was on a mission to recover a downed vehicle that had been struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). It was then that his own vehicle was struck by an armor piercing rocket propelled grenade. The attack left one dead and two injured. Greg lost his left leg above the knee, most of his left hand, and suffered severe PTS and TBI. He was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he underwent countless surgeries and years of physical therapy.

While in the hospital, Greg was visited by US Army SSG Travis Mills, an inspirational quadruple amputee who we had the honor of hosting at the Superbowl in 2014. and He believes Travis’ inspiring words marked a turning point in his own journey of recovery.  Greg has also been an Eagles fan all his life and was beyond excited to see them play in the Big Game!

Greg & Chris were first to arrive in the “Twin Cities.” They were escorted in via private jet thanks to David, Jen and Veterans Airlift Command.

Carlos arrived shortly after, however, he flew into Minneapolis airport across town.

The Minneapolis Fire Dept teamed up with us to provide the warriors with transportation all weekend long! We cannot thank them enough for helping the guys get around the city.

Unfortunately our original 4th guest, a Warrior from Boston who is a diehard Patriots fan, had a last minute family emergency to attend to and could not make it out to Minnesota. So we decided to fill his spot at last minute with local Minnesota wounded veteran, Army Sgt John Friesel.

After all the warriors had arrived in town, my dad stopped to pick up the Super Bowl tickets from our friends at ESPN.

Then Pierce, our Minnesota Fire Dept chauffeur suggested that they all stop to get a famous Minnesota “Jucy Lucy” before making their way to the house.  For those of you who don’t know, a “Jucy Lucy” is a Burger stuffed with Cheese & other fillings. They even have one filled with peanut butter & a “Thanksgiving” burger stuffed with turkey, cranberries! It was a unique dining experience that the warriors enjoyed.

Eventually the group made their way about 15 minutes outside of downtown to “check in” to the rental house. With hotel rooms fetching a minimum of $750 a night, we decided to rent a house. We got lucky & found a 3 bedroom rental for $750 per night. This gave the warriors the opportunity to hang out with each other & they each had their own room. Plus the lady we rented the house from provided them with a little welcome package full of snacks for their stay. It worked out perfectly!

After “checking in” the guys made the decision to head back downtown to experience the Super Bowl atmosphere & festivities. The snow & ice made it a little challenging to get around but thankfully the skyway connected many of the venues, so everyone stayed nice & warm.

Eventually everyone made their way back to the house around midnight to settle in & rest up for the big game!

Minnesota firefighter Shane Thorn, also a Marine, was at the house at 11am to escort the guys downtown to their VIP tailgate before the game.  The warriors were pumped up for their Super Bowl experience. Carlos even came prepared with his “Dog Mask.” (An Eagles novelty because they have been “underdogs” all season)

The guys met up with Army Sgt John Kriesel and Marine Mark Toppel (Warrior Wishes board member) at Fire Station 1 which was connected to the tailgate across the street from US Bank stadium.

Thanks to our friends at Bullseye event group, our group was treated to a VIP tailgate experience before the big game for the 2nd straight year. This year’s event was once again filled with players & celebrities. Celebrity Chef, Guy Fieri was once again in charge of the delicious food. Guy made sure to stop by to thank the warriors for their service & sacrifices before the event kicked off.

The tailgate was quite a bit more crowded than usual due to the fact that in all the other warm climate Super Bowls have outdoor and indoor seating areas. With temperatures in the single digits, Minnesota’s event did not have any outdoor seating…  Thankfully, Bullseye provided a reserved table which made it a little easier for the warriors.

The guys collected autographs from players, and enjoyed a few hours of delicious food and drinks before making their way over to the stadium to see the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII!

My dad & Mark escorted the warriors to the stadium to make sure they got in without any issues & hit the road back home before the game even started.  Meanwhile, the guys were inside US Bank stadium “Jacked as Heck” to experience the Super Bowl!

The Eagles were big underdogs going into the game. Partly because they were playing the Patriots & they also had a backup QB under center. But on any given Sunday, anything can happen. Carlos, Chris & Greg were all hoping to see their eagles win their first ever title in team history. John was rooting against the Eagles only because they just knocked out his Vikings for a chance to play in the big game at “home.” They all just hoped to see a great game

And a great game they got! The teams exchanged field goals on their opening possessions of the game. On the Eagles 2nd possession of the game they only needed 3 plays to find the end zone to take an early lead into the 2nd quarter.

The Eagles had control of the game & looked as if they were going to coast to an easy win. But late in the first half, Hsu committed 2 defensive penalties to set up he Patriots for an easy score.

I think many people thought that was going to be the turning point of the game… but the Eagles, with just over 2 minutes left in the half, wanted to get the momentum back on their side and took just over a minute to march down the field on 7 plays and hit paydirt just before the half.

My dad said it was weird not watching the big game, but he and Mark listened to the game on the radio the whole way home. He said he could only imagine how much fun the warriors were having watching the roller coaster first half.

The guys enjoyed watching Justin Timberlake perform during the halftime show & were excited to see how this game would play out. They never expected the offensive explosion both teams would have in the 2nd half.

The Patriots scored first, the Eagles answered. The Patriots marched down the field and scored again to cut the Eagles lead to 3. The Eagles marched down and answered again with a field goal of their own. Patriots marched and scored their 3rd TD in as many possessions and the Eagles once again answered with a TD of their own.

The biggest play of the game came late in the 4th quarter. With both defenses struggling to stop the other team, the Eagles were able to strip the ball away from tom brady & recovered the fumble! The turnover set them up for a chip shot field goal to give Philadelphia a 41-33 lead & ice the game!

My dad arrived home to see the last play of the game & The underdog Philadelphia Eagles were world champions for the first time ever! Carlos, Chris & Greg, 3 of the biggest Eagles fans we have ever met, celebrated their Victory!

The Eagles thrilling 41-33 victory made 3 of our heroes VERY happy and John was just happy to be there and even called it “one of the best days of my life.”

It’s always humbling when we hear those words. It never gets old & we are so honored & proud to have had the opportunity to provide these experiences for the brave warriors who deserve it!

After making Warrior Wishes come true & providing unforgettable experiences at more than 50 NFL games throughout the 2017 season, including the Pro Bowl & Super Bowl, we can officially say “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”

SEE ALL THE 2017 “ALL32IN17” HIGHLIGHTS HERE!

We are so incredibly thankful to everyone all season long who helped us make each warriors experience special. Without all of you, we could not have made it all possible!  And we couldn’t have made this Super Bowl experience “one of the best days of these warriors lives” without all of these amazing people & organizations!

Thanks to Denise, Chris and the entire ESPN crew that has been helping make wishes come true since 2012!

Thanks to Walt & Jen at Veterans Airlift Command for setting up private flights, as well as David, Eric and Bob who flew the warriors to Minnesota & back!

Thanks to Kyle and John at the Bullseye Event Group for providing VIP Tailgate Passes, thanks to Guy Fieri for hanging out with the guys for awhile!

Thanks to Chief Fruetel, Chief Tyner and the entire Minneapolis Fire Dept for setting up transportation around town for our Super Bowl VIP guests! Thank you to Pierce and Shane for being the hands on guys that provided that transportation,and hung our with the guys all weekend!

Thanks to New Era Cap for providing caps to the warriors all season long!

Thanks to the kids at Clinton and Ridge View elementary Schools in IL for providing thank you cards & letters for their us to present to the warriors!

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Army Sgt Greg Hedrick, Navy Seal Chris Serle, Army Sgt John Kriesel & Marine Carlos Garcia for your service & sacrifices to our country. It was an absolute honor to have the opportunity to give back to you & host you all at the Super Bowl! We truly hope it was everything you had hoped it would be & an experience you will never forget!

My dad will be taking a few weeks off to prepare for our upcoming Battlefields to Ballfields mission. Make sure to nominate your hero today & let’s make their Warrior Wishes come true!

Thank You For Your Support!

Follow the Mission at www.warriorwishes.org or on Facebook @ Operation Warrior Wishes

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Game 37 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Minnesota!

After making Warrior Wishes come true in Philadelphia, my dad enjoyed a couple days off before heading north to Minnesota to make Wishes come true at the Vikings game for the 2nd time this season.

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CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE DETAILS

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 12 – Warrior Wishes Come True At The Vikings New Stadium!

After making warrior wishes come true at the Texans game & a great night of catching up with old friends, Manny picked my dad up on his way to the airport.

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They both had early morning flights.  Manny was headed back home to Chicago and my dad took off to Minnesota to make more Warrior Wishes come true at the Monday night Vikings game.  

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Over the past 4 years we have made some incredible memories making Warrior Wishes come true at the Metrodome & TCF stadium in Minnesota.

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My dad has made warrior wishes come true at all 32 NFL stadiums every year for the past 4 years in a row.  However, this was the first time we ever made Warrior Wishes come true at the brand new U.S. Bank Stadium.

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As you can imagine, this new billion dollar stadium is an incredible state of the art facility.  Located in downtown Minneapolis, US Bank Stadium is a bold and iconic building. The structure is like no-other in the NFL. It features a fixed, slanted roof that is 60% transparent allowing natural light to filter inside giving it an outdoor feel. Featuring a black zinc facade, the majority of fans enter the stadium through the west side, known as the Medtronic Plaza, a three-acre gateway to the stadium that contains one of the most iconic features at US Bank Stadium, a 160 foot long legacy Vikings ship. Modeled after an ancient Viking’s ship, it features a 2,000 square foot curved LED videoboard that serves as the ships 55 foot tall sail. The plaza provides a great gathering spot for fans before and after games. 

Source: http://www.stadiumsofprofootball.com/stadiums/us-bank-stadium/

My dad arrived in Minneapolis at around noon and spent the first hour he was there capturing pictures of the outside of the gorgeous new stadium.  

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He also walked around the stadium to get familiar with the surrounding area and found the tailgate lot where they planned to hang out with the Warriors & the “VWO” (Viking World Order) before the game.

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We were honored to be hosting Air Force Sgt Jeremy Walker, who was one of the Warriors we hosted in 2012, and his wife Stephanie who also served in the Air Force!  Stephanie is still in the Guard today.  

My dad met up with the Walkers for dinner before the game thanks to Chris and Steve at The Old Spaghetti Factory.  They were excited to host the warriors!  

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My dad enjoyed catching up with Jeremy & getting to know Stephanie over dinner.  They really enjoyed The ambiance & delicious food at the Spaghetti factory.  The 2 Air Force warriors got to pick out their new Vikings caps before heading over to the stadium, thanks to our friends at New Era.  

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As they headed over to the stadium, Stephanie, told my dad that Jeremy still talks about the game we hosted him at back in 2012.  It was a game that we will never forget either.  In 2012, Jeremy was treated to field passes & one of the coaches tossed him a game ball to take home with him.  It was truly a once in a lifetime experience!

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Unfortunately, My dad informed him, and apologized, that this time won’t be like the first experience as we were unable to get field passes and ticket prices were extremely expensive due to the new stadium & the Vikings being undefeated. Nonetheless, my dad was still determined to show them a great time!

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Before heading inside the new stadium, my dad introduced the Warriors to our friend “Diggs” from the VWO.  The Viking World Order is one of the most amazing group of fans in the NFL!  From face paint to costumes, the VWO goes all out!  Jeremy & Stephanie had such a good time meeting everyone and just hanging out, that they were asking Diggs and other Superfans how they could join Viking World Order and tailgate every week going forward!  

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This is one of the things we like most about our program – it introduces and matches up local veterans with each other and with various contacts for team, restaurants , players etc so that they can do other things in future when we are not here.  It’s all about working together to show each warrior that their service & sacrifices are appreciated!  We like to think we are sometimes the conduit.

A half hour before game time my dad snapped a few pics in front of the stadium and explored the inside as much as they could before kickoff. 

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The Vikings remained undefeated as they gave Jeremy & Stephanie plenty to cheer about.  They dominated the Giants and won the game by the score of 24-10.  

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After the game my dad thanked the Walkers one last time for their service & walked a few blocks to catch his overnight $1 Megabus back to Chicago & will meet his new grand daughter for the first time when he arrives home!  

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Chris and Steve at Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, the VWO for providing an awesome tailgate experience and New Era Cap for the Vikings caps 

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Last but certainly not least, we want to thank Air Force Warriors , Jeremy and Stephanie Walker for their service & dedication to our country!

My dad will be back in action on Thursday making Warrior Wishes come true in San Francisco!  Stay Tuned for more details & photos of Baby Quinn!

MEET THE WARRIORS

AIR FORCE WARRIORS JEREMY & STEPHANIE WALKER

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Jeremy Walker has served from 2002-2009 on Active Duty Air Force stationed at Fairchild AFB, WA. He deployed to Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2007 driving convoys. On his deployment to Afghanistan he received a purple heart for his injuries.

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Stephanie Walker has served from 2005-present on Active Duty Air Force stationed at Fairchild AFB, WA and Luke AFB, AZ. She is currently serving in the Minnesota Air National Guard. She deployed to Kuwait and Qatar in 2008 and UAE in 2010 managing the vehicle fleet.
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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