Photo: Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill (pictured, back row, fourth from left) recently recognizes Lettermen of the USA’s Heroes Week in Huntsville with 20 wounded U.S. military veterans from across the country. Each veteran received an autographed college football.
Lettermen of the USA presented autographed college footballs to more than 20 deserving wounded veterans at the Semper Fi Task Force of North Alabama’s 12th Annual Heroes Week on Nov. 12 in Huntsville.
The event honored wounded veterans from across the nation, their families and their caregivers. Alabama Secretary of State John H Merrill attended the presentation and congratulated the wounded veteran re-cipients and thanked them for their service.
“Today, it is my privilege to acknowledge the significant contributions made by the outstanding veterans in this room, as well as those that you represent from around our country,” said Merrill. “Your sacrifices are not un-noticed, even though they are often underappreciated. Your dedication to ensuring that our nation continues to be the greatest nation in the history of the world gives me renewed hope, energy and determination to continue to fight for you, your families, and those that you represent.”
As wounded U.S. military inserts veterans prepared to attend Heroes Week 2018, they completed a questionnaire about their service, their injury and the support they require to travel to and participate in Heroes Week. Part of that survey included one simple and unassuming question: What is your favorite college football team? Unaware of the significance of this question, the veterans listed their favorite team and the information was shared with Lettermen of the USA.
“Each year, in preparation for Heroes Week, Lettermen of the USA uses the wounded veterans wish list to procure the appropriate autographed footballs,” said Darryl Fuhrman, Lettermen of the USA founder and board member and 1983 Southside High School graduate. “As you can imagine, it takes us months to track down these autographed footballs. When you consider that we are making requests of college coaches during the busiest time of their season, it is truly amazing that we have been able to deliver. This year, we secured 100 percent of the requested footballs.”
With list in hand, Lettermen of the USA began its “Autographs for Heroes” football drive. With its network of former college players, coaches and active coaches, Lettermen of the USA members reach out to college coaches with this special request for wounded military veterans. The “Autographs for Heroes” football drive results in each wounded veteran at Heroes Week receiving an autographed college football from his or her favorite team, presented by a Lettermen of the USA member.
This year, the organization gave away autographed college footballs from the United States Air Force Academy, Alabama, Auburn, The Citadel, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississ-ippi State, Missouri, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Southern California, South Carolina, UCLA, Utah, Washington and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“I would like to thank the Lettermen of the USA for everything they have done for wounded veterans,” said Greg Barnett, Master Sgt., United States Army (Ret.). “This is the best reception I have ever had.”
Along with Fuhrman, other Lettermen of the USA presenting autographed footballs at the recent Heroes Week were Desmond Holoman, Adlai M. Trone, David Gilmer and Lydell Mitchell.
Through its 100 percent volunteer team, Lettermen of the USA has been providing help and support to U.S. military veterans since 2011.
Proving that rival teams and rival fan bases can work together to achieve a common goal, Lettermen of the USA is a charitable organization of former college athletes and active and former coaches who have teamed up to help serve honorably discharged veterans, wounded veterans of military actions following September 11, 2001, disaster victims, and former college players in need.