It was a night full of fun and respect for our nation's military when more than 100 wounded warriors spent Monday evening watching the Dallas Mavericks take on the Denver Nuggets.
It was a one of a kind program that brought together veterans from all over.
It's not just the wounded warriors that look forward to the night. Several Mavericks employees, from the general manager on down, say it is their favorite night of the year at the American Airlines Center.
The wounded warriors arrived to a hero's welcome. Everybody in the arena got on their feet and clapped. In the crowd was former president George W. Bush and his wife, Laura. Like everyone else, they were eager to shake hands and thank the men and women for their service.
More than a hundred soldiers were courtside for the game. Most were recovering from their injuries at a military hospital in San Antonio.
Neal and Jamie Hawks launched Seats for Soldiers 13 years ago with a handful of their front row seats.
"People who sit in the front row just started asking me what I was doing,” Neal recalled. “I said ‘We're bringing these guys here. They're being treated for burns and amputations.’ And they said, 'We'll give you our tickets for that.’"
The event has grown from eight seats the first year up to 120 seats now. And there was more than just Maverick's game. There was a hero's welcome when the service members arrived at DFW airport. They also enjoyed a pregame meal at Nick and Sams and were treated like VIPs.
The Seats for Soldiers event has forged long-lasting friendships, like the one between Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson and Master Sgt. Israel Deltoro.
"This young man beside me is the reason our country is the greatest in the history of mankind,” Nelson said.
"It's an amazing experience. You always hear people say they have your back and they support you, and sometimes you don't feel it. But here, the Mavericks and American Airlines get you out of the hospital fly you up here and put you courtside,” Deltoro said. ‘It truly shows that the town, the Mavericks and American Airlines truly care for you."