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Jan. 29, 2018
This piece is presented by Sanford Health.
Military veterans from the Midwest will attend an event related to Super Bowl LII in St. Paul that will be played in their honor.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team will hold the seventh annual Tribute to Heroes Game of Honor on Jan. 31 at Concordia University. It is a flag football game that features military veteran amputee athletes and former NFL players.
Sanford Health, which has several clinics, medical centers and other facilities in Minnesota, is one of the sponsors of the event. It has arranged for local veterans to attend the game and also will provide sports medicine coverage during the event.
“Sanford Health is always looking for opportunities to show how much we appreciate what our veterans and military service members have done for our country,” said Capt. Paul Weckman, director of the veterans and military services department at Sanford Health. “We’re thrilled to be able to help these heroes experience a part of Super Bowl week with veterans from across the country.”
The event is especially personal to Sanford Health’s Dr. Verle Valentine, whose sister-in-law will play in the game. Valentine will provide sports medicine coverage for the game along with colleague Dr. Chad Kurtenbach.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team is comprised of military veterans from across the country, all of whom lost a limb while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The organization’s mission is to highlight the perseverance of America’s active and retired service members, and to raise awareness and support for wounded warriors and their families. Among the players will be veteran Marine and former Concordia University defensive end Hank Goff.
The veterans will play against a roster of notable former college and professional football players, including NFL alumni such as Rocky Bleier of the Pittsburgh Steelers; Ron Jaworski, Philadelphia Eagles; Jerry Kramer, Green Bay Packers; Hall of Famers Charles Haley of the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, and Jack Youngblood of the Los Angeles Rams; and former Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks Rich Gannon and Sage Rosenfels.
Current Minnesota Vikings fullback and Sanford POWER athlete C.J. Ham will be involved as well.
“This game is a tremendous opportunity to show just what wounded warriors can do — that the human spirit is powerful as we explore endless possibilities in our professional and personal lives,” said veteran Marine and team captain BJ Ganem, who lost a leg below the knee in Iraq in 2004. “To play against some of the NFL’s most iconic players, whom many of us grew up watching on television, is also incredible. And we appreciate the support we receive from Americans of all walks of life who come out to watch us play in support of this endeavor.”
Jaworski’s Eagles beat the Vikings to lead Philadelphia to their first berth in a Super Bowl in 1980.
“I’m proud to compete in this incredible game and to support these talented athletes in a forum that highlights the physical and emotional strength of our wounded warriors,” Jaworski said. “The opportunity to raise awareness about the abilities – and the needs – of our military veterans is critical, and my teammates and I are grateful for the chance to be a part of this event during the lead-up to the Super Bowl in the Twin Cities.”
The Super Bowl isn’t the only significant football game being played in Minnesota soon. Sanford Health is one of several sponsors for the upcoming Tribute to Heroes Game of Honor.