2012 Seats for Soldiers Night at the TD Garden
BOSTON (January 18, 2012) – The Boston Celtics on Wednesday hosted Seats for Soldiers night presented by the Army National Guard of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. The program, now in its fifth year, recognizes the men and women who dedicate their lives to serving our country.
A record 1,200 tickets were donated by season ticket holders in order for military personnel and their families to attend the game. Scanning the arena, there were camouflage, navy blue and grey uniforms everywhere.
“I had a great time tonight,” said one marine. “I can’t thank the Celtics and season ticket holders enough for enabling us to come to a game.”
The night included a myriad of different activities and honors. Prior to tip-off, seven families came to the Garden early to have a teleconference with their deployed family members at the Air Force base in Kandahar.
Alexa Harris, a high school senior from Bedford, Mass., had the opportunity to talk to her mother, who had been overseas for quite some time. With her father overseas as well, Harris was extremely happy to be able to hear and see her mother. Being able to update her mother on her senior year of high school was a memorable experience for the both of them.
Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and players Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox also joined the teleconference and spent time chatting with the military personnel in Kandahar.
“It was an honor to talk to the men and women in Kandahar,” said Ainge. “They put their lives on the line every day for our country and I can’t thank them enough for everything they do. Keyon, Chris and I had wonderful conversations with them all.”
As the game got closer to tip-off, 20 military personnel participated in the High Five Tunnel, where they greeted the Celtics players as they came onto the court to warm up. Additionally, members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s Voices of Freedom performed the National Anthem and members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Selected Honor Guard presented the nation’s colors.
Throughout the course of the game, interviews were conducted with members of the armed forces as they expressed their gratitude for the night of recognition. Fans also were able to see a live feed of the soldiers from Kandahar on the jumbotron as they watched the game at their base. The crowd erupted every time they appeared on the screen.
Lance Corporal William Donovan, Jr. was honored as the Hero Among Us for the game. While on his tour of duty overseas, two IED explosions hit Donovan and caused brain damage, but he amazingly completed his tour of duty with his unit. He was awarded two purple hearts for his courageous efforts.
Following the Celtics’ decisive 96-73 victory over the Raptors, forward Brandon Bass met with 80 military personnel and their guests.
“Everyone was so nice and excited to be here,” said Bass. “I can’t imagine what they go through every day and I’m so thankful they are serving and protecting our country. I was happy to see the families together tonight. I hope this is a night they will never forget.”