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Thank Our Veterans

Veterans Day is a time to honor those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Collegiate athletics departments are stepping up to the plate this month to celebrate our nation's heroes. Many universities and colleges are hosting military appreciation events in November. More than 50 of these events will empower Wounded Warrior Project® injured veterans, providing them with once-in-a-lifetime experiences created not only to honor them, but to also help ease their transition into civilian life.

Many schools are paying tribute to those who've sacrificed for our freedoms by recognizing veterans during military themed events. The American flag ruffled in the breeze while being carried onto the field by wounded service members and their families at Boston College's Military Appreciation Day game. The National Anthem echoed through the stadium as fans stood with hands over hearts to honor our country and the families on-field who've sacrificed for our freedoms.

The veterans and their families filled up on tasty tailgate treats before walking out onto the fresh-cut grass to enjoy a sideline view of the pregame action. Players whizzed by as the teams warmed up, coaches marched back and forth with whistles in hand, and in the center of the organized chaos, the service members took it all in. After the National Anthem, three veterans named as honorary captains looked on in excitement as the coin flipped through the air and landed in the referee's hand. Each honorary captain walked tall back to the sideline grinning ear-to-ear, relishing in that special moment.

Thank a veteran and create an event that shines a light on America's veterans. Contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com to learn more!

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Empower Warriors

Many injured veterans undergoing the transition from military to civilian life face difficulties. Sometimes "home" can feel like a foreign country while trying to adjust to their physical and mental injuries. These same men and women, who showed great courage defending our freedom, often feel confused adjusting to their new normal. Across the nation, athletic departments are rising to the occasion to empower wounded veterans with special recognition.

Underneath the bright stadium lights, and a dark evening sky, time stood still for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) wounded service member Hunter Alarcon. Fans adorned in scarlet were on their feet to express gratitude for his service and sacrifice during the "Heroes Among Us" promotion on Sept. 13, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson®. Hunter's face lit up on the video board as his name echoed from the speakers and the crowd, cheerleaders, team, and coaches erupted with an outpouring of support and appreciation.

"We all cherish the opportunity to recognize Wounded Warrior Project® veterans and we are grateful to our partners at Johnson & Johnson® for helping to make it possible," said Mitch Brooks, partner services coordinator at Rutgers IMG Sports Marketing, who works tirelessly to provide these experiences at every Rutgers home football game. "Everyone we've ever hosted has been absolutely wonderful and has been so excited to come! I truly love this program and what it does for our wounded service members."

Plan now to provide a once in a lifetime experience to empower those who have had their lives changed while fighting for our freedom. Contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com to learn more!

Photo credit: Rutgers Athletics

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Thirteen years have passed since the Twin Towers crumbled in front of our nation's eyes. Today, many service members return to their communities changed from visible and invisible wounds incurred while protecting our freedom. These changes can make it difficult to readjust to life in the civilian world. Athletics programs offer unique ways to show appreciation for their sacrifice.

Crowds of red and white jumping up and down and a mascot with a hat that enforces the motto "Everything is bigger in Texas" are just a few of the sights Wounded Warrior Project® wounded service member, Brandon Pool, absorbed during Texas Tech's "Operation Giveback sponsored by the Overton Hotel" on Aug. 30. Meeting cheerleaders and holding the "Guns Up" Texas Tech victory sign from the sidelines created lasting memories. The campus-affiliated Overton Hotel provided a night's stay so he could rest easy the night before game day at Jones AT&T Stadium.

"This is Texas Tech, American heroes like Brandon are always welcome!" said Andy Rowdon, assistant athletic director for promotions and fan engagement, whose team was instrumental in creating a day of appreciation for Brandon.

Plan now to create a game day experience that empowers and aids in the successful transition of our service members. Contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com to learn more!

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College football through the lens of an injured service member can be a game-changer. There is the unforgettable experience of gripping the coach's hand pre-game in a quick handshake. The exhilaration of lining up shoulder-to-shoulder with the players, preparing to take the field. The boom of your name called through the PA system, followed by the cheers of thousands of students and fans in appreciation for your service.

Moments like these are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the alumni of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). "It was the first time I took my boys to a football game so I'll definitely remember this day," said WWP Alumnus Brian Miller (pictured), invited by Iowa Western Community College.

Plan now to create a game day experience that can make an invaluable difference in the life of a warrior, athletes and fans. Contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com to learn more.

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Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) would like you to visit our booth located outside Salon 8 during the 2014 NACDA & Affiliates Convention Week. Learn how your athletic program can impact the lives of injured service men and women through your collegiate sporting events.
Inviting WWP Alumni to participate in a coin toss, throw out the first pitch, or even attend a sporting event as an honored guest, can make a difference in their lives. Their presence and participation can make a lasting impact on athletes as well as fans.
Please join us at the Salute Concert for Wounded Warrior Project®, presented by Daktronics, Inc., from 9-11pm in Salons G-H on Tuesday, June 10 at the World Center Marriott Resort.

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WWP Alumnus LeRoy Watkins and his family enjoyed a wonderful day of baseball on Saturday, April 19 at Northwestern Oklahoma State University for a game against East Central University. Watkins served as honorary captain, met the team and the coaching staff, and accompanied the head coach to exchange lineup cards.

Northwestern participated in the WWP 4-With-1 program where they hosted several events throughout the 2013-14 season. "We enjoyed it and look to participate again in the future!" said Andrew Carter, the university's director of athletics.

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"It has been such a great experience for the West Coast Conference to stay involved with Wounded Warrior Project because it provides us the opportunity to not only recognize some of our nation's greatest heroes but also provide them the avenues to connect and build relationships with other Wounded Warriors while enjoying some competitive college basketball." - Stefanie Ordoveza, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing & Events at West Coast Conference.

The West Coast Conference welcomed Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumni to attend the Men's and Women's basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV March 6-11. Warriors were honored with special on-court recognition during a men's semifinal event. 

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"Handing off the game ball and the meet and greet after the game with the Belmont team really meant a lot to us (especially my son, since it was his first game). The players, coaches, students and crowd were great, with words of encouragement and support toward the WWP Alumni and our families." - Wounded Warrior Project® Alumni Jonathan Klein.

Belmont University opened their doors to the Curb Event Center on Dec. 1, 2013 and invited any local Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumni who were able to attend. WWP Alumni received complimentary game tickets, reserved seating, a Belmont gift package that included a replica jersey, and the WWP Alumni served as honorary captains and presented the game ball to the officials. After the game ended, the team and the WWP Alumni families met for an autograph and picture session.

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Each November 11, Veterans Day, we look to honor and thank all who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

On the 11th of each month, NACDA and the Wounded Warrior Project will partner to salute a wounded warrior, who's life has been impacted by an event held on one of our campuses.

If you have a desire to participate in this impactful program please contact Lauren Lea or Amara Betoney.

To learn more about Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), please visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.