Ron Rivera: Wounded vets benefit ‘puts everything in perspective’
The Carolina Panthers organization hosted several wounded veterans at Bank of America Stadium this week ahead of Wednesday night’s Charlotte Stands for Heroes benefit, “an event to benefit the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a charity established to help post-9/11 injured service members and their families thrive in civilian life,” per an ESPN report.
And with the team still stinging from a loss in Super Bowl 50, spending time with people who are courageously dealing with things far more serious than football helped everyone present realize the outcome of a game is trivial by comparison.
“It puts everything in perspective,” said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “It really does. It kind of helps us understand there are bigger things in life.”
Tight end Greg Olsen shared a similar view.
“In the football world, we throw around words like ‘sacrifice,’ ‘hard work’ and ‘hero,'” he said. “Being around these people makes you understand what those words truly mean.”
Each veteran received a personalized jersey with their name on the back and received a tour of the stadium, something that includedcoming out of the inflatable Panthers head onto the field as the stadium’s public address announcer read off their names, just like the players.
Rivera is the son of a U.S. Army officer, so he understands all too well the many sacrifices military members make to serve the country.
“At the end of the day, what these men and women do is so important and so valuable to this country’s freedom,” he said. “It’s important for us that we show appreciation for what these men and women do.”
It appears the Panthers’ efforts to show appreciation was appreciated by those veterans in attendance, including Master Sergeant Dexter Durrante, 46, who lost his vision on Aug. 17, 2007, in a training accident.
“It’s funny,” Durrante said, accompanied by his guide dog, Good Shepherd. “When I went to rehab, I was really tender then. I was, ‘Give me my eyes or give me death.’ Boy, was I wrong.
“To have a great day like today, it makes you feel appreciated. It uplifts you. It makes you feel what you did for the military wasn’t in vain.”