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2015 NFL Hall of Fame Game

Making Warrior Wishes Come True At The NFL Hall Of Fame Game

 My Dad & I  officially kicked off our 2015 “All32in17” mission by making Warrior Wishes come true at the Hall of Fame Game in Canton.

This year, while the NFL was busy honoring some of the best to ever play the game, My Dad & I were busy honoring Army Sgt Matthew Killian & Army SFC Adam McCamant for thier selfless service & sacrifices (Read Their Bio’s below).

 After a 7 hour overnight drive and sleeping in the car we met up with the warriors outside of the Hall of Fame just before 9am.  We decided to meet up early to avoid waiting in extremely long lines to see the Halls’ main attractions.

Both Sgt Killian & SFC McCamant are die hard Steelers fans & were excited for the opportunity to be our guests for the day and even more excited to have the opportunity to watch their Steelers play against the Vikings to kickoff the 2015 preseason.

Once inside the Hall, We immediately made our way up to see the new busts added to the “Hall of Fame Gallery.”  We spent hours walking around taking in all the history, from the game used memorbilia, to every Superbowl Championship ring.  We saw it all.  We even had the opportunity to take a picture with the Lombardi Trophy!!!

 Just before noon we made our way over to the PFUFA (Professional Football Ultimate Fan Association) Breakfast.  Over the past 3 seasons we have made quite a few friends in the PFUFA organization & wanted to stop by and say hello.  Plus we hoped to tailgate with many of them this upcoming season so we networked amongst the ultimate fans and let them all know when we planned on making Warrior Wishes come true in their city.  Matt & Adam also got in the action and took some pictures with a few Ultimate fans before heading out for some lunch.

 We grabbed a bite to eat, played some connect four, attempted to chase down some Hall of Famers & had the honor of meeting Medal of Honor Recipients (Army Master SGT Leroy Petry & Navy Corpsman 2nd Class Donald Ballard) before we took a little break and went back to our cars to get out of the heat and charge up our phones for the game.

The four of us made our way over to the stadium early to get a good spot on the fence so we could try and meet some players and get some autographs.  It paid off as we had the opportunity to meet a few Steelers players including Superstar Antonio Brown!

 Eventually security made everyone go up to their seats just before game time.  It had already been a day filled with memories and the game hadn’t even started!

We had seats 24 rows up on the aisle directly behind the Goal Post.  We watched the Golden Knights parachute down to the field and deliver the game ball & enjoyed the flyover during the National Anthem.  It was officially game time!

 Unfortunately for the Warriors, none of the starters played in the game, QB Ben Roethlisberger did not even suit up, & the Steelers lost the game.  On the brightside, it was only a meaningless preseason game & more importantly the warriors had a lot of fun throughout the entire day.

Sgt Killian told us it was “One of the best experiences of his life.”

Comments like those keep my dad and I going.  Spending 14 hours in a day driving and sleeping in cars is not always fun & trust me when I tell you my dad does not enjoy riding the bus.  But when we see the warriors with smiles on their faces, having fun & hear comments like those, it makes it all worth it.  That’s why we do it!

 We thanked the Matt & Adam one last time before the 3rd quarter ended and headed out a little early to beat the traffic and drive back to Chicago to get to work on time.  It was a memorable day that none of us will ever forget.

Over the next few weeks, my dad & I will be preparing for the upcoming season.  We encourage you to come out and join us at our 2nd annual Warrior Wishes Scramble at Pheasant Run resort in St Charles IL on August 24th & Join us for our charity concert on August 29th featuring Olivia Dvorak & Drake Bell (From Nickelodeon’s hit series “Drake & Josh”) We would like to thank our Friend Minor from veteran owned Excel Automotive for his hard work in organizing the event.

 PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS TODAY!

We are exactly 1 month away from officially kicking off our 2015 “All32in17” mission in San Francisco for our fourth consecutive season of making Warrior Wishes Come True at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season.  Learn more about the mission, nominate your hero & follow the mission at www.warriorwishes.org.  Thank You for your Support!

ARMY SGT MATTHEW KILLIAN

 Sgt Matthew D. Killian joined the military 5 days after his 20th birthday. He attended One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Ft. Knox, KY where he trained to become a Cavalry Scout. Over his 12 year career, SGT Killian deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

On his first deployment to Afghanistan, spanning from July 2009 until July 2010, Matt spent time as a Stryker gunner and a dismounted team leader.  On the 23rdof June, 2010 Matt’s Stryker vehicle rolled over an IED which sent shrapnel into his head. Sgt Killian was awarded the Purple Heart the next day.  Despite the injuries,

Sgt Killian was medically retired on November 27th, 2014 and now lives in Erie, PA with his wife Emily, and their children Robbie, Madelyn, and Charlotte. He struggles daily with the drastic changes to being out and as of last week just got hired for his first job since becoming a civilian. He is an avid hunter and loves to watch all sports especially the professional teams in Pittsburgh. One day he hopes to start a charity that benefits  veterans of any era.

ARMY SFC ADAM McCAMANT

 Adam R. McCamant was born May 29th, 1985 in the city of New Philadelphia, Ohio. He graduated from Buckeye Career Center in 2004. He joined the United States Army in 2004.

Adam R. McCamant enlisted in the Army in April 2004 as in Forward Observer.  His military training was received at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  His assignments consist of a 3 years in Ft Lewis Washington with C- Company, 3-21st Infantry Battalion 25th Infantry Division SBCT, with a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He was then assigned a 1 year tour to 2-14 Cav 2nd Infantry division at Camp Hovey Korea. Reenlisted for Ft Lewis Washington and assigned to 1-14 Cav Regiment 2nd infantry division, with a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then was selected to be A US Army Recruiter at Minneapolis Recruiting Battalion working in Des Moines, Iowa. Then assigned to Cleveland Battalion as a Center Leader at Canton Recruiting Company.  SFC McCamant Adam R converted to primary MOS 79R in OCT 2012.

SFC McCamant’s military training consists of the Army’s One Station Unit Training for Forward observer at Ft Sill, Oklahoma, Warrior Leader Course, Joint Fires Observer Course, Combat life savers Course Army Recruiter Course, and Forward Observer Advanced Leader Course, 79R Senior Leader Course, Center Commander Course.

SFC McCamants awards and decorations include four Army Commendation Medals, Two Army Achievement Medal, ThreeArmy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Ribbon with one star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, Three Overseas Service Ribbons, two Certificates of Achievement, the Recruiter Badge Silver, the Combat Action Badge, and the Driver/Mechanic Badge.

SFC McCamant lives with his wife, Sarah, and his Daughter, Lily, age 11 Month.

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ESPYS 2015

Each year elite Athletes from across the country & Hollywood superstars collide for an epic night known as “The Espys.”  ESPY is short for “Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly.”  The awards are given out each year to recognize individual and team athletic achievement and other sports-related performance during the year.

Each of the Espy nominees share similar characteristics. They are leaders & team players, they stay disciplined, act courageously, believe in themselves, persevere through adversity and most of all, they never ever give up.

These characteristics can also be used to describe Navy Corpsman, Doc Jacobs & Army Master SGT Cedric King.  These 2 brave warriors have shown strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril, and the willingness to stand up and fight no matter what the cost.

Thanks to Chris Berman and all of our friends at ESPN, Jacobs & King have the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the most inspiring athletes in the world & will get to enjoy a “Red Carpet” experience of a lifetime!

We chose Doc & Cedric to be guests because they have inspired us with their stories & here they are….

Navy Corpsman Daniel “Doc” Jacobs

 Growing up Daniel “Doc” Jacobs dreamed of joining the military to fight for freedom like his ancestors had and of playing Baseball in the big leagues.  Jacobs turned his dream of joining the military into a reality after high school.  He proudly followed in his families footsteps & served for more than 8 years in the Navy.

In 2006, while serving in Iraq, his dream of becoming a professional baseball player all but ended when “Doc” was severely injured After an  improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonated.  Jacobs lost his left leg (below the knee), two toes from his right foot, and three partial fingers from his left hand & has endured more than 50 surgeries!

 That’s not the end of Doc’s story.  As I said before, Doc never gives up.  In the face of adversity he stood up & fought.  He believed in himself & despite his injuries,he made history by becoming the first amputee Corpsman and Naval Personnel to EVER be assigned to an infantry unit.

Doc also never let go of his dream of playing in the majors Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda met Doc before a dodgers game and encouraged him to try out for the LA Dodgers!  So he did.

 Jacobs is realistic about making the team.  He knows it will not be easy to make the cut, But that’s not going to stop him.  Doc is making a statement. He says “It’s all about the experience, and letting America and these guys know that not all disabled veterans are going to be a statistic in the news, I’m here to combat the suicide rate, homicide rate, divorce rate statistics. I just want to get out there and prove to America there are awesome disabled veterans out there and we are making a stand against that.”  he is not giving up his hopes for making it to be a Professional Athlete. As a potential professional athlete Doc hopes he can utilize such a platform in order to reach out and inspire more veterans and persons with disabilities.

See Doc’s ESPN Video here!

If that’s not inspiring enough, Doc is a full time student with a 3.24 GPA, a full time and dedicated athlete for his pursuit of the Majors, he has completed 15 marathons, he is an author of his soon to be published book, co-host on his talk show, avid bass fisherman, drummer last and certainly not least a very dear position held close to his heart, a peer mentor for his fellow veterans and persons with disabilities alike. He frequents his fellow wounded warriors in Bethesda, Walter Reed, Naval Medical Center, San Diego and Landstuhl Germany to share his story and any encouraging words of experience or wisdom to wounded warriors as they began their early stages of recovery. Doc has recently begun guest speaking at Naval and Marine Corps Commands in hopes of utilizing his constant uphill battles to inspire and bring motivation to those who may follow in his foot steps be it physical, mental or spiritual hardships.

Army Master SGT Cedric King

 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.’”

 His family, which includes his wife and children, is there for him constantly.  Cedric says, “There are people around me who love me, not because I had legs, not because I was strong, not because I could pick up my kids.  They love me for the part of me that you can’t see.  They love me for what’s on the inside.  That’s the part of you they can’t smell, they can’t see.”

Cedric wants to live life the way that He did before or better, as if nothing  ever happened. “I’ve got every excuse to say ‘Its too much,’ but I won’t. To me, it’s not awe-inspiring like it is to everyone else.  To me, it’s a frame of mind that separates me between now and who I used to be.  The injury is big in other people’s eyes.  To me, it’s not that big of a deal (any more). It’s a shift in consciousness.  The reason why this happened was to make me better…to make me stronger…to expose my best part in me.  By not complaining, it makes it better.”

If that doesn’t inspire you, this will.  MSgt Cedric King lets nothing stand in his way!  On November 2nd, 2014, Cedric set his sights on crossing the finish line at the New York City Marathon.  During the grueling 26 mile trek, one of Cedric’s prosthetic legs broke.  He lost invaluable time as he waited to get it fixed.

 King knelt down and prayed.  He put one foot in front of the other & never looked back.  After all the crowds had gone home & clean up crews were sweeping the streets, Cedric King crossed the finish line 10 hours after starting the race.  

So what if he was one of the last people to cross the finish line?  He did it, he displayed strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril, and the willingness to stand up and fight no matter what the cost.

Master Sgt Cedric King recently retired from the army and moved out of Walter Reed back to North Carolina with his family.  He is a public speaker, a mentor and a true inspiration.

When We called to invite Cedric as our guest, he said “I feel like I just won an Espy.”  We can’t wait to see his reaction to walking down the red carpet.

You will not see or hear about these 2 warriors watching the Espy’s tonight, so we are encouraging everyone to share their courageous & inspiring stories.  On behalf of myself, my dad & Operation Warrior Wishes, it’s a true honor to host these brave warriors on the Red Carpet at the Espys!

And Jimmy V, I know we will Laugh, Think & Cry.  It’s going to be one heck of a day & very special.

 Thanks to Chris Berman & our Friends at ESPN, Marine Cpl. Nick Kimmel was treated to the Espys pre-party & Navy Corpsman “Doc” Jacobs & Army Master SGT Cedric King had an experience of a lifetime walking down the Red Carpet at the 2015 ESPYs

Operation Warrior Wishes can’t thank ESPN enough for giving us the opportunity to make #WarriorWishes come true at the ESPYs for the 3rd straight year.

We would also like to thank Wolfgang Puck’s LA Live restaurant for treating everyone to dinner before we hit the red carpet.  Lastly, we are thankful to all of the athletes & celebrities who stopped by & helped make the experience special including Diane Sawyer, Alex Rodriguez, JJ Watt, Mo’Ne Davis, Odell Beckham Jr, players from the USA Womens Soccer team, players from the Duke National Championship team, players from the Ohio State National Championship team, Antonio Brown, Chris Long and many more.

 You can see all of the photos from the Red Carpet here.  

Operation Warrior Wishes is a Father & Son’s Mission to Honor Heroes & Keep Legacies Alive By Providing Once In A Lifetime Experiences To Warriors From The Battlefields To The Ballfields. In less than 3 years, We have proudly honored more than 1000 warriors at more than 300 events nationwide.  We will be “Kicking Off” our 4th annual “All32in17” mission where we will honor warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season!  You can nominate your hero for an upcoming game, donate or sponsor to help support our mission and get involved at www.warriorwishes.org.

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

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Best of Battlefields To Ballfields

Our mission to honor over 200 warriors across the country at 50 games in 50 days!

To follow our Best of Battlefields to Ballfields journey, check out our Facebook page here

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Superbowl XLIX

A week of warrior wishes coming true at Superbowl XLIX in Phoenix Arizona

Honoring multiple warrior including Army Ranger Cory Remsburg at the big game!

In week 1 of the 2014 NFL season we had the pleasure of meeting & hosting Army Ranger Cory Remsburg to the Cardinals game. We were so inspired by Cory that we invited him to be our guest at Superbowl XLIX!

Cory Remsburg joined the Army at the young age of 18 years old. He went through the rigorous, specialized training to become an elite Army Ranger, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan a total of 10 times! Cory spent a total of 39 months in combat, and was eventually made leader of his company’s heavy weapons squad.

In June 2009, he participated in ceremony for the 65th anniversary of D-Day, parachuting in on the shores of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, as part of a ceremony President Obama attended. Afterward, the two met briefly.
What Remsburg didn’t know then was that he would meet the President again just a year later, under very different circumstances.

On October 1, 2009, Remsburg and his platoon hit a roadside bomb in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and the immediate explosion nearly killed him. He was found face down in a pool of water, shrapnel lodged in his brain. Remsburg was in a coma for more than three months. He’s undergone dozens of surgeries, is still blind in his right eye and is partially paralyzed on his left side.

Remsburg met President Obama for the second time in 2010, shortly after coming out of his coma. The President happened to be visiting Walter Reed Medical Center outside Washington, and realized he knew the young man once he saw the photo of their first meeting hanging on the wall near his bed.
Remsburg is the only known wounded veteran to have met the President both before and after his injury.

President Obama met Cory a third time when he made a stop in Phoenix and requested to see how Remsburg was doing. When Obama arrived, Remsburg did something that shocked everyone.

“Cory got up, saluted him, then got up with a walker and walked across the floor,” said his father. For Cory, the gesture was to prove a point: “To show the President that this is what happens when you don’t quit.”

President Obama was so inspired by Cory’s determination that he shared Cory’s story during the State of the Union Address in January 2014.

“Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit,” President Barack Obama declared to the nation during his speech.

Cory received a standing ovation and inspired the nation after the president shared his story. The recognition turned Remsburg one if the most recognizable veterans in the country, a position he’s not entirely comfortable with. But he says he’s okay with the attention as long as it brings attention to all wounded veterans.

Cory lives by the motto “FIGHT LIKE HELL.” Cory Said “There are other people who would have quit a long time ago and would have been happy in their wheelchair. Me? Oh, no.”

After years of rehabilitation centers and hospitals, Remsburg now lives at home (built by Chicago Bears DE Jared Allen’s foundation) with a full-time caregiver in Phoenix, Arizona.

Cory says his heroes are his Army Ranger buddies who gave their lives serving their country. He wears a bracelet engraved with their names as a reminder of their ultimate sacrifice.
His long-term goals are to go to college, get married and have children, to live a full life, just like anyone else.

We truly are thankful for Cory’s service & “Fight Like Hell” determination. Cory Remsburg is in fact someone who never gives up. He is an inspiration to everyone & we were honored to have him & his father as our guests to Superbowl XLIX!

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Raiders

Honoring Army Warriors Rigo Lugo, Joseph Gonzalez & Gold Star family of Joshua Hardt

On Oct. 3 2009, Army Sgt. Joshua M. Hardt, 24, was among eight soldiers killed when hundreds of insurgents armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked two remote U.S. outposts in the Kamdesh district of eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan province, on the Pakistani border.

Josh followed in his brothers footsteps enlisted in the Army soon after graduation. SGT Jonathon Hardt, Joshua’s brother, says “Josh was more than a brother he was my best friend and there when I needed him most.”

Josh and his mom. Shelly, would traditionally attend a number of Oakland Raiders games each season, prior to his final deployment and tragic loss in 2009.

IIt was an honor to keep Sgt Hardt’s legacy alive and host his mom, Shelly, at the Raiders game in her son’s honor.

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Sharks

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.

Today Brian lives with his family in Northern California. He loves attending sporting events & being a dad. He & his family were recently welcomed home to an accessible home provided by, Homes for Our Troops – California Build Projects.

We had the pleasure of hosting Brian & his family at the Sharks game to thank him for his service & sacrifices!

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49ers

Honoring WWII Veteran Albert Brandau, Navy Warrior Wes Brandau & Vietnam Veteran Michael Chavez

Albert Brandau served in the Navy during WWII. The 88 year old San francisco native has been a 49ers fan since a child. He thought he would never get to see a game at their new stadium, however we made this WWII heroes warrior wish come true.

To make his experience even more special we also surprised Albert at the game with the return of his grandson who had followed in his footsteps and currently serves in the Navy. Wes, Albert’s grandson, had been on deployment, away from family, for 7 months on the USS Vandegrift before the surprise homecoming.

The look on Albert’s face was priceless and it was an honor to work with the San Francisco 49ers to help make this surprise warrior wish come true!

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Bears

Honoring Army Sgt David Sayles, Navy Warrior Josh Lugar & Marine Manny Gonzalez

Army Veteran David Sayles served our country for 13 years on multiple deployments to Bosnia & Iraq. During the invasion of Iraq Sayles suffered severe PTSD & a TBI. He is a lifelong Bears fan who has never had the opportunity to see a game until we made his warrior wishes come true!

Josh Lugar has loved the Chicago Bears since he was a kid! He served 5 years active duty in the Navy Seabees as a construction mechanic & Josh had never had the opportunity to see a Bears game until we made his Warrior Wish come true!

Marine, Manny Gonzalez is a 38-year-old Burn Survivor. On July 18, 1996, Manny suffered 2nd & 3rd degree burns over 50 % of his body while attempting to save a fellow marine during a field training exercise.

Following the traditions of the Marine Corps of “Never leaving a Marine behind”, Manny dropped all his gear and he ran to the Marine’s side to help before being trapped by the fire and engulfed in flames. At one point his doctor gave him a 1% chance of surviving due to severe complications a week after his injuries.

Thankfully Manny defied the odds and survived. We had the honor to host Manny & his wife at the Bears game & thank him for his service & sacrifices.

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Chargers

Honoring Army Sgt Joseph Briones

Joseph Briones joined the Army 1999 as a truck driver. He Deployed to Iraq in March 2003 driving trucks in supply convoys in and around baghdad.

After that first deployment Joseph changed jobs and became a helicopter flight engineer/aerial gunner. He was deployed to Afghanistan & Pakistan in 2004-2005 & served one final Deployment again to Iraq from 2006-2008. Joseph was Honorably discharged in 2008. He joined the Air Force Reserve as an In-Flight Refueler in 2009 & Was medically retired in January 2013.

In all, Briones served our country for over 14 years. It was a true honor to serve him and make his warrior wish come true in San Diego at the Chargers game!