The Ultimate Journey To Honor Wounded Warriors Stops In Baltimore This Sunday
By Melissa Rubin, BmoreChix.com
Everyone has dreams. For Craig Steichen and his son Matt, theirs’ is to visit every football stadium. When the NFL added weekly Thursday night games to the schedule this season, the Steichens decided to make their dream a reality.
Matt follows the words of wisdom from his dad; experiences are more meaningful than material things or money because they create lifelong memories. These words of wisdom combined with Matt’s dream are how All32in17 was born.
All32in17 is the “Ultimate Football Journey for Wounded Warriors”. Their goal is simple, “To create memorable experiences and raise awareness for Wounded Warriors.” For Matt, giving this experience to the Wounded Warriors is more powerful than donating money to the Wounded Warrior Project.
This football season, Matt and his dad will attend a game in every football stadium with Wounded Warriors as their guests. Wounded Warriors are heroes; they fought for our country and deserve to have memorable game-day experiences.
The theme of the project is “Real Heroes”, honoring Wounded Warriors.
Craig and Matt contacted the Wounded Warrior Project who agreed to work with them. The Wounded Warriors are nominated by the Wounded Warrior Project and are local to each city.
Craig and Matt pay most expenses out of their own pockets. Corporate sponsors including Westin Hotels and Buffalo Wild Wings contributed to their project. Most NFL teams donated tickets; some included field passes.
Thursday night games made their goal easier to achieve since they can attend games in more cities.
In just two weeks they have been to five cities. They have taken the Wounded Warriors to see the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons.
They will add two more cities to their journey this Sunday. First they will accompany Lance Corporal Caleb Getscher and his father William to the Redskins-Bengals game in Washington, DC. Later that day, they will head to Baltimore to take Lance Corporal Michael Martinez and his friend to the Ravens-Patriots game.
In addition to the games, they hope to take them to brunch or dinner, tailgate and a possible trip to the White House. They will also present them with thank-you letters and cards from kids in Craig and Matt’s hometown of St. Charles, Illinois.
Taking “Real Heroes” to football games makes their journey a more meaningful experience, one they won’t forget and neither will their heroes.
Craig believes the most rewarding part of the journey is seeing the reactions and smiles on the Wounded Warriors during the games. They start the day as strangers, but when it is over, Craig and Matt feel like they are best friends with the Wounded Warriors.
The journey has its own set of challenges. Matt is married and works full-time; the journey leaves him with little to no free time to spend with his family, but he says at the end of the day, giving the Wounded Warriors this experience is worth it. He stays energized knowing that if he doesn’t go then the Wounded Warriors won’t have this experience. The journey keeps getting better and Matt is continuously amazed at the Wounded Warriors’ stories.
This experience has given Matt a new outlook on veterans and Wounded Warriors. He is more thankful of their heroics and looks up to them. It is inspiring and Matt believes that he “will end up a much better person at the end of this journey”. He wants others to learn from it and to do something for someone else they normally would not thought of doing.
When their journey is said and done, Craig and Matt do not want recognition, they simply want to raise awareness for Wounded Warriors and give them an experience that will last a lifetime.
The Baltimore Ravens will help honor Lance Corporal Michael Martinez on Sunday. Before the game, Craig and Matt will take Lance Corporal Michael Martinez to the Ravens Backyard Bash to tailgate. Later they will escort him to the field where Corporal Martinez will have the chance to meet some of the players before the game.
Visit their website to follow their journey, read Warriors’ stories and see pictures of their game-day experiences.
And say hi when they visit your city and help them to honor our country’s heroes.