Fort Worth

Wounded Soldiers Treated to 5-Star Meal and Courtside Seats at Mavs Game

It starts with a seat at the table inside Nick and Sam's Grill in the Park Cities enjoying a donated five-star meal. It ends with the soldiers receiving a hero's welcome at the American Airlines Center while they enjoy a Dallas Mavericks game from courtside seats.

Mavericks season ticket holders Neal and Jamie Hawks created Seats for Soldiers, donating their tickets to eight wounded soldiers the first time around. Now in its 15th season, it grew to host 150 soldiers Wednesday.

"They're not having to worry about their next surgery or what comes next for them medically," Jamie Hawk said. "But a day where they can just enjoy life like you and I enjoy it because they've given up so much sacrificing for us."

Sometimes physical sacrifices.

Retired Army Master Sgt. Leroy Petry lost his hand on Memorial Day 2008 when he grabbed a grenade to save his team.

Wednesday was the second time he participated in Seats for Soldiers.

"To see that they've improved it every year and they are continuing to do it is amazing," Petry said.

One of two Medal of Honor recipients at Wednesday's game, he said he was glad to be back to help inspire the recovering soldiers.

"Try to motivate them that their recovery is going to may be lengthy but it's worth it in the end and they can do it together," Petry said.

While they enjoy this moment away from their reality to cheer on the Mavericks, they know it's all made possible by people cheering them on for their service.

"It means a lot," Fort Worth native Eric Anderson said. "It lets you know you are not the only one in the fight. That you have other people that may not have the diagnosis or carry the burden that we do, but they are here to support us and we can lean on them if we need to."

After the game the soldiers also got a chance take pictures with Mavs players and coaches.

They'll then fly back to San Antonio on a chartered flight donated by American Airlines.

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