Fort Worth, Texas, December 18, 2008 – Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs to a bomb in Iraq and has served as an inspiration for the XLII Super Bowl champions, will be the featured speaker at 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Kickoff Luncheon presented by Armed Forces Insurances and the Omni Fort Worth Hotel here December 30 in the ballroom at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Credited by Michael Strahan for the New York Giant’s turnaround when he accepted the 2008 ESPY Award for “Biggest Upset” in May, Lt. Col. Gadson was named an honorary captain and given a Super Bowl XLII ring. At the request of President George W. Bush, Lt. Col. Gadson was one of seven U.S. delegates in the 2008 Paralympics Games in Beijing (pictured to the right).
A member of the Second Battalion and 32nd Field Artillery, Lt. Col. Gadson follows Chad Hennings as a former service academy football player and military veteran to be the featured speaker at the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Kickoff Luncheon presented by Armed Forces Insurances and the Omni Fort Worth Hotel to honor the participating teams from the United States Air Force Academy and the University of Houston.
Tickets for the 2008 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Kickoff Luncheon presented by Armed Forces Insurances and the Omni Fort Worth Hotel can be purchased in advance by telephone (817/810-0012), online (www.armedforcesbowl.com) or be purchased at the door. Tickets are $25 per individual or $200 per table of eight. The December 31 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl game between the C-USA and MWC will air live on ESPN at 11 a.m. (CST).
Lt. Col. Gadson, who lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Bahgdad on the night of May 7, 2007, entered West Point in 1985 as an outside linebacker. Over the next four years, Lt. Col. Gadson became a three-year starter as Army posted a 29-17 record, split a pair of bowl games and combined for a 5-3 record against Navy (3-1) and Air Force (2-2).
Commissioned as a second lieutenant when he graduated from West Point in 1989, Lt. Col. Gadson has served tours in Operation Desert Storm, the Balkans and most recently the Middle East. As he was returning from a memorial service to honor the memory of two fallen soldiers, Lt. Col. Gadson was heading to rejoin the Second Battalion 32nd Field Artillery in Baghdad when his vehicle was hit hard with an IED (improvised explosive device). A week after the incident, infection caused his arteries to deteriorate which resulted in the amputation of the left leg. A week later, Gadson lost his right leg.
While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Mike Sullivan from the New York Giants visited Lt. Col. Gadson. Sullivan wanted to know what else he could do for his Army teammate and Lt. Col. Gadson’s response was that when he was ready, he would like to take his family to a Giants game. That small gesture turned out to be more significant than either Lt. Col. Gadson or Sullivan could predict.
On Sept. 23, 2007, Lt. Col. Gadson and his wife (Kim) watched the Giants and Washington Redskins in the nation’s capital. After consulting with Giant coach Tom Coughlin, Sullivan called Lt. Col. Gadson to see if he would be interested in addressing the team on Saturday night at the Giant’s hotel. Upon Lt. Col. Gadson’s arrival, Sullivan gave his fellow West Pointer a Giant’s jersey, complete with Gadson and No. 98 on the back.
A 15-minute speech by Lt. Col. Gadson moved the future Super Bowl Champions to silence and later brought them to their feet. New York had lost its first two games heading into its match-up with the Redskins. The Giants went on to erase a 17-3 halftime deficit and win for the first time in 2007.
When the Giants arrived at their hotel in Tampa for their first playoff test against the Buccaneers, Lt. Col. Gadson was waiting in the lobby – standing. Two weeks later, along with his son (Jaelen), he was there in Green Bay, enjoying the NFC Championship game, not from a heated luxury suite, but from his wheelchair on the sidelines in single-digit temperatures.
Ticket prices for the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl are $50 for sideline seats, $40 for upper deck seats and $20 for endzone tickets. Military veterans receive half off any $50 or $40 seat and active duty personnel get in free via the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl corporate military ticket underwriting program. A portion of local ticket sales will go to designated military charities. Tickets for this year’s game can be obtained by calling the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl office at 817/810-0012, or by going to the website for more information at armedforcesbowl.com.