Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Father and son offer Bills tickets to veterans

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Buffalo: Father and son offer Bills tickets to veterans
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Thousands of football fans were out at the Ralph Thursday night for the first primetime game in four years. It was also military appreciation night and YNN's Katie Cummings spoke with two men that made this game special for a couple of local veterans.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The chilly fall air couldn’t cool the excitement of Bills fans.

"Bills are going to kill them. We got to win this game. We got to win a lot more games to make the playoffs," said Clarence resident Steve Marquart.

"It has been so long since Buffalo had a night game. I’ve been a season ticket holder for six years now and I love these games," said West Seneca resident Matt Mallon.

The game was special for Chicago father and son Craig and Matt Steichen, who flew in Thursday. The two are on a mission to attend 32 NFL games in 17 weeks. The Bills-Dolphins game was number 24.

But it’s not just about football. They also give tickets to local veterans that are associated with the Wounded Warrior project.

"These guys are heroes and to sit there and meet each one and hear their stories and be able to share them with the world has been absolutely amazing," said Matt Steichen, All 32 in 17 co-founder.

There are only two rules for veterans that take part in the games: have fun and stay friends.

"They got to keep in touch for the rest of their lives and that's the first 23 guys; 46 guys have been contacting us like every few weeks so that works out," said Craig Steichen.

The two veterans that received the tickets were overwhelmed by the generosity, especially Steve Bunch, who had never been to an NFL game before.

"I was actually at the VA getting treatment for a combat related issue and the phone rang and it was the Wounded Warrior project offering tickets for me tonight to come to the game," Bunch said. "And I’ll tell you it was quite a surprise."

"They could have picked anyone. You know, any sort of type of people that need help or have their own reason to be at the game like this and I think it's a great thing," said Rochester resident Craig Cercone.

The Steichens continue their tour of stadiums as they visit Oakland on Sunday. Next year, they hope to start a non profit organization that will provide trips to all sporting events and concerts for veterans.

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