Stampede, Norco Partner for Idaho's War Veterans
Saturday's game jerseys being auctioned off to help buy special sports wheelchairs

By Travis Tate

With a little bit of sacrifice and some love for the Idaho Stampede, local war veterans can enjoy life as they never have before. The Idaho Stampede, in partnership with Norco Medical Services and the Idaho Warriors, are holding an auction that will raise funds for special wheelchairs allowing Idaho’s best to play sports.

This coming Saturday, February 5, the Stampede will auction off their jerseys – the team will be wearing Portland Trail Blazers jerseys for Affiliate Night, as the Stampede thank the NBA club for its partnership with the Treasure Valley’s own Development League team.

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The Idaho Stampede Community Foundation responded to a call from General Kane and Governor Kempthorne in the summer of 2004. Idaho had just experienced a huge call-up of troops to Iraq. Their families were experiencing financial hardships caused by losing the main breadwinner in the family. With the help of U.S. Bank, we were able to raise approximately $75,000 that was disbursed to needy military families. We named the campaign “Operation Idaho Cares.”

In the fall of 2006, our first troops started returning home from the Middle East. Unfortunately, some of them returned with life-changing injuries. As before, our government has long-range plans that help these veterans. However, they had immediate short-term needs such as converting their homes for wheelchairs. Once again, we were able to join with U.S. Bank and Associated General Contractors to fill this need. The theme of this project was “Operation Opening Doors.”

The Idaho Stampede and their Managing Investor Bill Ilett, were awarded the State of Idaho, Idaho Distinguish Service Medal by the Idaho Military Division in March, 2007. It was a very proud moment for the Idaho Stampede.

In the summer of 2010, a veterans group by the name of “Idaho Warriors Sports and Recreation” approached us. This group is comprised of injured veterans serving other injured veterans. They are doing this by using sports and recreation to help these veterans re-engage in everyday society. The key points of their program are:

- Build self-confidence and self-esteem

- Provide support

- Integrate with friends

- Re-integrate into the community

- Provide resources

- Help cope and adjust to life with a disability

Our new initiative is to provide sports wheelchairs for the Idaho Warriors. These chairs will be provided to the Idaho Warriors and will be used for many years for all indoor sports activities. We are pleased to announce that Norco Medical and the Kissler Family Foundation have joined us on this program. They are providing assistance in puchasing the wheelchairs. In addition, they are sponsoring a corporate table at our games, where the injured veterans can come and enjoy Idaho Stampede games courtside. We are now looking for others to help purchas the initial ten sports chairs that will be shared by the veterans. Our plan is to have these chairs available before the end of our season, so they can be shown and demonstrated at one of our home games.