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Wounded Warrior Project® 

January 2018

Colleges and universities across the country are elevating their collegiate sporting events by honoring local injured veterans. Hosting a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) event makes a difference in the lives of wounded service members by empowering them to get out and about in their community. These VIP experiences, from honoring a veteran at halftime to presenting each injured service member a school jersey and anything in between, are opportunities to give thanks and celebrate the brave men and women who serve our country.

In the fall, La Salle University welcomed local WWP veteran Ebony Harris to its men’s basketball game against Saint Peter's University. Harris was escorted onto the court by the university’s mascot, Explorer, where he presented her with a personalized basketball, signed by the head coach John Giannini. The crowd fell silent as a compilation video played, showing La Salle University’s men’s basketball team sharing their gratitude and appreciation towards Harris and other service members.

As she turned to step off the court, Harris was met with applause as the packed stadium rose in recognition of her service.

To host a collegiate sporting event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Lis Garcia at Lis@themeridiangroup.com.

December 2017

This fall, more than 80 colleges and universities from coast to coast worked with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) to offer over 160 VIP game day opportunities to wounded veterans. These injured service members often return to civilian life without fanfare or recognition for their military service. WWP collegiate sporting events honor the sacrifices of our nation’s brave men and women, and empower them on their journey to a new normal.

In November, Michigan Tech Huskies welcomed Staff Sergeant Jon French, local veteran and Michigan Tech alumni, to their ice hockey event during their Military Appreciation Weekend. The former Husky played on the 1993-94 men’s ice hockey team before joining the U.S. Army in 2007. French was invited to step on the ice again, but this time as an honored guest accompanied by his two young sons. Together, the trio dropped the game puck and the crowd roared with applause loud enough to vibrate the seats. The boys beamed with love and pride as they watched their father receive recognition for his service.

“Michigan Tech is honored to recognize our service men and women for their sacrifice and commitment to our country,” said Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Suzanne Sanregret. “Our show of gratitude on Military Appreciation Weekend is the least that we can do. We have the freedom to participate in collegiate athletics because of our veterans and active military personnel and their dedication to keep our country safe and free.”

To host a collegiate sporting event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Lis Garcia at Lis@themeridiangroup.com.

November 2017

Every November 11, Veterans Day events across the country recognize the service and sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. These celebrations are an opportunity to give thanks to the brave men and women who fight for our freedoms. With the help of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), colleges and universities are creating VIP experiences to include service members in their game day festivities not only on Veterans Day, but all season long.

Injured veterans often face a long and emotional road to recovery. Hundreds of events honoring Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans are held each season, supporting injured service members as they work to cope with and understand their new normal. Together we can continue to empower our service members through the healing process and make every day Veterans Day.

This October, Pima Community College invited three local WWP warriors and their families to watch the Aztecs face off against Snow College. The sun was bright in Kino North Stadium, and fans were flushed from excitement and the heat of a hot Arizona fall day. At halftime, veterans Benny Spiller, Don Birkbeck and George Truesdale were welcomed onto the field, accompanied by attending family and friends. A hush fell across the audience as each service member stepped forward and their military accomplishments were read. The stadium erupted in applause and the veterans waved humbly, honored by the appreciation and gratitude of the crowd.

“It is an honor for Pima Community College Athletics to recognize these brave men and women at our football games,” said Raymond Suarez, sports information assistant for Pima Community College. “We dedicate halftime to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they've made in the armed forces and make sure to invite their family and friends to experience this with them. We also want to make sure it's another way for the Wounded Warrior Project representatives to connect with one another in the Tucson area.”

To host a game day event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Lis Garcia at Lis@themeridiangroup.com.

October 2017

Collegiate sporting events aren’t just an opportunity to connect with fellow students or old friends; they’re the perfect setting for family outings. For injured service members, the emotional support of family members is a key component to their healing process. Whether driving back and forth to appointments or being a primary caregiver, these families selflessly help their loved ones navigate the road to recovery. With this in mind, colleges and universities are reaching out to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) to curate game day experiences to not only recognize the sacrifice of wounded veterans but also celebrate their families.

Monmouth University recently welcomed local WWP veteran, Ronn Schuck, and his family to their football game vs. Lehigh University. The air was surprisingly crisp for a summer afternoon, and his kids were all smiles as Schuck, the honorary captain for the day, performed the coin toss. At halftime, Monmouth Athletics Director Dr. Marilyn McNeil invited the whole family on-field in recognition of the veteran’s military service and sacrifice. The stadium erupted in applause, and the Schucks stood together with pride for the overwhelming appreciation shown for their loved one.

To host a collegiate sports event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Lis Garcia at Lis@themeridiangroup.com.

September 2017

Sixteen years ago, the world held its breath and watched in shock as the World Trade Center collapsed and disappeared from the New York City skyline. The events of September 11, 2001 and the lives lost that day will not be forgotten. In the wake of tragedy, many brave men and women stood up and fought to protect our country and defend our freedoms and continue to do so today. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) provides health and wellness support to veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.

Since 2005, colleges and universities from coast to coast have been empowering WWP veterans and their families with game day experiences. Battling to overcome emotional and physical injuries, WWP veterans often feel isolated as they transition back to civilian life. Collegiate sporting events are a unique opportunity for our nation’s heroes to get out and about while experiencing firsthand the support and appreciation of their community.

As part of their “Heroes Among Us” promotion last fall, Rutgers University hosted a veteran and their family at every home football game. Among these families were local WWP veteran Dominick Kajewski and his young son. Kajewski buzzed with energy and excitement as he joined his fellow fans in cheering on the Scarlet Knights against Indiana. During a pause in the game, the announcer asked for the stadium’s attention as the warrior humbly walked to the end zone for his moment of recognition. One hand on his son’s shoulder and the other waving to the crowd, Kajewski was overwhelmed with pride as the stadium erupted in a standing ovation for their local hero.

To create a game day experience for warriors like Kajewski this 2017-18 season and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Lis Garcia at Lis@themeridiangroup.com.

August 2017

With football season just weeks away, college athletics departments are hard at work preparing for opening day. Starting the year with a philanthropic win is simple by hosting Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans. WWP veterans endure daily hardships that impact their mobility, personal relationships, and mental health. Through free programs focused on physical and mental well-being, as well as community engagement, WWP works to connect, serve and empower our nation’s heroes as they acclimate to life after service. College game days are the perfect setting to create experiences which motivate, build confidence, and bring joy to WWP service members on their journey to their new normal.

WWP strives to make the process of including injured service members in game day activations as turn key as possible. From choosing a date to crafting the experience, our team is ready to guide you toward a successful event. College athletics departments can transform events into a life-changing experience for wounded warriors in four easy steps:

1. Choose a sporting event and game date for the event. While holidays such as Patriot Day (September 11), Veterans Day (November 11), and Naitonal Military Family Month (November) are a natural fit for WWP events, there are no limits when honoring service members. Every game day is an opportunity to empower veterans and connect them with their community.

2. Determine how many veterans, families, and caregivers you'd like to host. While smaller groups offer a more intimate experience, larger groups provide veterans a unique opportunity to socialize with their peers and establish lasting relationships.

3. Curate the experience. Some popular game day activities veterans enjoy include on-field recognition or performing the coin toss, serving as an honorary captain, sharing their story with a pre-game motivational speech, enjoying the game from a VIP suite, and touring facilities. Whether a short spotlight or an all-day package, all activations are valuable opportunities to honor these service members.

4. Engage with participants. Once WWP has identified local service members, families, and caregivers interested in attending the event, your department is provided contact information to start building the relationship and discuss event details. WWP is available through the entirety of this process to answer questions and provide support.

To invite WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience at a collegiate sporting event this season, please contact Kate Read at Kate@themeridiangroup.com.

July 2017

College game days offer a unique opportunity for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans to connect with their peers and experience the support and appreciation of their community firsthand. By providing an environment that facilitates bonding with friends and forming of new relationships, colleges and universities empower our nation’s heroes on their journey toward a new normal.

This past spring at a Point Loma Nazarene University baseball game, veterans were offered the chance to meet the team, take the field with starting players for the national anthem, and throw out the coveted ceremonial first pitch. Spirits were high on the bright San Diego day, as the crowd clapped and cheered in celebration of the wounded warriors. Filled with pride and awe, each veteran stepped up to the plate to throw a pitch and receive recognition. The dugouts of both teams were filled with smiling players as they jostled for the opportunity to catch the pitches and take photos with the group.

Veterans are not the only ones who benefit from these collegiate sporting events. “It is wonderful whenever PLNU has the privilege to host members of the armed forces,” says graduate assistant for athletics marketing & communications, Emily Jurenka. “The military is such a part of the community in San Diego and we are proud to have the opportunity to honor these brave men and women that have served our country.”

To host a collegiate sports event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Jenn Leone at Jenn@themeridiangroup.com.

June 2017

With summer officially here, we would like to take a moment to recognize the hard work of athletics departments who made the 2016-17 season another successful one for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) collegiate sporting events. This year, 85 colleges, universities and conferences hosted more than 3,500 wounded veterans, family members, caregivers and friends with game day experiences ranging from tickets to highly coveted games to all-inclusive VIP event packages. These opportunities continue to empower injured veterans and are an instrumental part of their healing process and emotional well-being. Thank you for continuing to support our nation’s men and women this past season.

During this year’s National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Convention, we were delighted to meet face to face with colleges and universities from across the country. Visitors to our booth included athletics departments already committed to hosting WWP events as part of their collegiate sports schedules, as well those eager to forge exciting new working relationships. We appreciate your enthusiasm and stopping by to discuss how creating unforgettable game day experiences boosts morale and leaves a lasting impression on injured service members.

Help us make the 2017-18 athletics year even more incredible! We are ready to brainstorm exciting ideas tailored to the unique needs and available resources of your athletics department. From pre-season scrimmages to major championships, every event is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate WWP veterans.

To learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Jenn Leone at Jenn@themeridiangroup.com.

May 2017

An afternoon at the ballpark or a night under arena lights are common activities for most college sports fans, but for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) these experiences are something much greater. The recently released WWP 2016 Annual Impact Report highlights the impact of support and contributions to WWP initiatives while featuring survey results of WWP warriors and their families. One of the many findings concluded 52 percent of warriors feel they don’t have personal relationships with other people, and 89 percent indicate that their physical health or emotional problems interfere with normal social activities. These numbers showcase the importance of connecting warriors with one another.

Collegiate sporting events are an opportunity for colleges and universities to empower warriors by providing a venue that encourages veterans to engage with their communities and fellow wounded warriors.

This 2016-17 season, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) organizers welcomed veterans and their families throughout their men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. From quarterfinals to championships, warriors were offered VIP courtside seats and a bag of WAC swag. Enjoying the game together allowed the attendees to bond over their affinity for sports and offered a setting for them to share stories and experiences with one another. When invited to center court for a moment of recognition, the veterans walked together and stood side by side as the audience applauded their military service and sacrifice. Amidst bright arena lights and a cheering crowd, these men and women were strengthened, not just by the respect of their community, but by the shared support of one another./p>

To create a game day experience to empower WWP veterans to connect with their peers, please contact Jenn Leone at Jenn@themeridiangroup.com.

April 2017

Basketball season is more than a chance for college students and fans to revel in school spirit. A night spent in the company of fellow fans, cheering for the home team, offers Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans an empowering once-in-a- lifetime experience. Many of our nation’s heroes struggle with transitioning back into civilian life after combat, and collegiate sporting events are a great way for veterans to feel appreciated and honored for their sacrifice.

Seton Hall University recently celebrated Army veteran Kevin Woodcheke at a Pirate’s men’s basketball evening game. During a pause in the action, the PA system crackled as a hush fell across Prudential Center and Woodcheke rose to receive recognition for his service. The silence was quickly consumed by roaring applause as the crowd jumped to their feet in overwhelming appreciation of Woodcheke’s accolades and sacrifice. His guests, an entourage of supportive co-workers, enthusiastically joined the cheers in honor of their friend.

Dan Ditusa, graduate assistant for Seton Hall Athletics Marketing & Promotions, worked with WWP to coordinate the event. “It has really made a huge impact on my life and even more so on the veterans that we are able to recognize,” Ditusa said.

To host a collegiate sports event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences, please contact Jenn Leone at Jenn@themeridiangroup.com.

March 2017

Athletics departments across the country continue to rise to the occasion by honoring Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) on game days. These events leave a lasting impression on injured service members as they work to cope with and understand their new normal.

The University of Michigan took an altruistic approach to the new year by honoring Navy veteran Rebecca Felkey during their January 4 men’s basketball game vs. Penn State. With her loyal service dog in tow, Felkey walked proudly to center court at Crisler Center as the Wolverines invited her to receive recognition for her military service. She offered a humble, appreciative wave while the crowd erupted in a standing ovation, expressing gratitude for her sacrifice and accomplishments.

Plan now to create a spring sports game day experience that empowers our service members. To host an event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com.

February 2017

Colleges and universities are lining up to support wounded veterans by extending special game-day opportunities to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The recovery process for injured veterans poses both emotional and physical challenges. Reaching out to WWP veterans and their families through these VIP opportunities provides much-needed support as they acclimate to civilian life.

In January, the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Prairie Stars celebrated the tenacious spirit of injured service members during Wounded Warrior Night at the men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader. It may have been a bitter winter day outside, but inside the Recreation and Athletic Center five local service members were welcomed with warmth and gratitude from spectators and team members in recognition of their military accomplishments. The honorees, accompanied by one faithful service dog, received a standing ovation as they were invited on-court to be personally greeted and thanked by players and staff from the UIS men’s basketball team. With special courtside seats to catch all of the action, the veterans served as the guests of honor for both the women’s and men’s basketball games.

Army veteran Ashti Dawson was among the five honored service members. “Attending this event as a veteran as well as a current UIS student was one of my greatest honors to date!” said Dawson. “The amount of pride exemplified from the audience, the basketball teams, as well as the support staff was absolutely wonderful, warming, and positively enduring. I am beyond thankful to have had this opportunity! Thank you, UIS and WWP!!”

To host a basketball event and learn more about inviting WWP veterans to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, please contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com.

January 2017

Colleges across the nation are assisting injured service members by offering VIP experiences at college sporting events. These events are often life-changing for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans as they make the difficult transition back into civilian life.

This season, Northwestern University stepped up to the plate to honor a local injured veteran at every home basketball game. Bright lights reflected off the basketball court as Sterling Pollard entered Welsh-Ryan Arena and was escorted on-court for the national anthem. As the anthem played, Sterling was filled with a sense of pride after being recognized publicly for his service while his military accomplishments were broadcast to an enthusiastic crowd.

Plan now to create a game day experience that empowers our service members on their journeys to recovery. For more information, please contact Amara Betoney at amara@themeridiangroup.com.