A Lone Survivor celebrated at Minute Maid Park. And Bourns an All-Star.
Minute Maid Park was anything but dark after the Astros left for their recent 10-game jaunt from Arlington to Milwaukee to San Diego. While they’ve hosted some pretty monumental events at their downtown facility, the June 26 bash may just take the cake.
Retired Navy SEAL and best-selling author Marcus Luttrell, a Houston native and a personal friend to general manager Ed Wade, has begun the next phase of his life by helping returning combat veterans who have seen and been through the worst of the worst and survived to talk about it. Luttrell, with the help of the Astros, launched The Lone Survivor Foundation with a star-studded bash at Minute Maid that will certainly bring welcome attention to the grass-roots campaign.
Some background information on Luttrell: Five years ago, he and his fellow Navy SEALs were sent on a mission in the mountains of Afghanistan to capture or kill a Taliban leader. The mission, known as Operation Redwing, tragically concluded after the SEALs were betrayed by some Afghan villagers after the SEALs spared their lives.
Luttrell, though badly wounded, managed to escape a Taliban onslaught and was eventually protected and saved by an Afghan village elder. He was the lone survivor of Operation Redwing.
Luttrell, author of the best-selling memoir “Lone Survivor,” has in the works plans for an all-encompassing ranch retreat that will create a safe haven for warriors and their families to relax, rehabilitate and recover. While waiting for the ranch blueprint to come to fruition, the foundation will offer unique off-site rehabilitation opportunities and will provide funding for rehabilitation and recovery programs for Patriots at other locations.
After the ranch opens the foundation will continue to fund unique requirements on a case by case basis. Examples include attending athletic performance centers, pain management programs, obtaining invitro-fertilization for those who have lost their ability to naturally reproduce due to combat wounds, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, purchasing adaptive athletic equipment such as adaptive bikes, guns and skis.
The sold-out event at Minute Maid Park drew plenty of celebrities, but even more significantly, the families of the warriors were also in attendance, as were the helicopter pilots and crew that eventually rescued Luttrell.
What’s more, the United States Air Force authorized those pilots and crew to fly the same helicopter used in the rescue and land it in the parking lot across the street from Minute Maid Park. Luttrell had not seen the people who saved him since he was flown to the hospital following the rescue.
Among the headliners: actor Jim Caviezel, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Peterson, the helicopter pilot that rescued Luttrell, Texas First Lady Anita Perry, actor/director Peter Berg, who is directing the “Lone Survivor” movie, General Leroy Sisco and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck (below).
The event was hosted by the Boot Girls, a group of five Texas women who are initiating the unique “Boot Campaign” designed to raise funds for organizations such as the Lone Survivor Foundation. The Boot Campaign is a project that invites Americans to buy a pair of Military boots — to take a step in “their shoes” — and the donations go to the Lone Survivor Campaign and other Military groups.
Congratulations to Michael Bourn, who had a dazed but happy look on his face as his teammates offered their kudos Sunday morning upon hearing that the Gold Glove center fielder had been named to the 2010 National League All-Star team. Most of us figured Roy Oswalt would be the lone Astros representative despite having 10 losses to his record, but NL manager Charlie Manuel gave the nod to Bourn, whose speed on the basepaths and stellar defense earned him a coveted spot on the roster.
The selection show on TBS started at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, so Wade had to call Bourn pretty early Sunday morning to give him the good news.
A groggy Bourn saw Wade’s number on his cell phone around 8 and thought, “I hope this isn’t something bad.” Bourn figured it was one of two things: either he was traded, or he was an All-Star. He was thrilled when it turned out to be the latter.
This is Bourn’s first All-Star game, which is always special. My favorite part of the All-Star festivities is the pregame introductions, where players get individual face time as they’re announced to the crowd. It’s always a prideful time for the fans of those particular players, and I’m looking forward to Bourn giving a tip of the cap to the camera when his name is announced. Now let’s just hope Manuel plays him.