Thunder Honored to Visit Tinker on Veterans Day

Senior Master Sergeant Cedric Powell and his family have made countless sacrifices in their lives for the sake of the country.

Serving in the Air Force isn't always the easiest of professions, but on Monday, the perseverance and selflessness of Powell and his two sons was rewarded when they gathered together at Gerrity Fitness Center at Tinker Air Force Base. In fact, it led Powell to boast a broad smile, looking over his happy sons, and say, “I’ll probably end up being Father of the Year, at least in my household anyway.”

Filled with children and parents, including the Powell’s, the gym was buzzing with activity as the group celebrated Veteran’s Day, but the scene exploded with cheering and excitement when a quintet of Thunder players strolled through the doorway. The ever-active Thunder organization tries to get out into the community as much as possible to give back to those who support them every night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and on Veteran’s Day, the Thunder could choose no better place than Tinker Air Force Base to give back.

Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones and Steven Adams interacted with and engaged with 80 children at the base as the Thunder hosted its Fit Clinic program, presented by Homeland. 40 of the kids have military parents, while the other 40 have parents who work at the base, so donating their time was an honor to the Thunder players.

“So many people sacrifice their lives for our safety,” Durant said. “It’s the least we can do to thank them.”

“They’re protecting and serving the country,” Jones said. “It’s something that they don’t have to do, but what they want to do. We appreciate that, as everyone does.”

FIT Clinics are a staple of the Thunder community service program, as each week and month throughout the year is an opportunity for the team to connect with those in the area, particularly the younger generations. Four different stations were set up in the base’s gymnasium, with one location featuring nutrition and one with aerobic exercises in addition to a shooting station and a dribbling station.

“They’re really working these kids out,” Adams said. “It’s definitely good for the kids. It’s a huge honor to give back to the kids.”

“I taught them the importance of eating healthy and staying in shape,” Lamb said. “We had a lot of good kids who listened to me. It was fun.”

It can sometimes be a difficult time for families and children when their parents are in another country serving in the armed forces, and military life often involves a lot of moving and drastic changes. As a result, the chance for these kids to have a special day with the Thunder dedicated to them was a welcome sight for everyone stationed at Tinker.

“Being deployed has its challenges for all parties involved,” Tinker’s Public Affairs Specialist, Darren Heusel, said. “The kids obviously miss their parents when they’re gone and the moms and dads who are deployed miss their kids. To have the Thunder come out and spend some time with them and know how much they appreciate their sacrifice, it means a tremendous amount.

For those kids in attendance that were fortunate enough to have their parents stationed on the base and not deployed, the afternoon was even more special. The children had a chance to learn the game of basketball and healthy living from the Thunder players with their parents watching from the bleachers, giving them all a wonderful memory to talk about and re-live for years to come. Afterwards, parents, children and Tinker staff, including the Powell's, were all thankful for the support they received from the Thunder, particularly on Veteran’s Day.

“It just shows how much that they appreciate our service,” Powell explained. “It speaks volumes for them to take time out of their busy schedule for them to come out and participate and put something on like this for Tinker Air Force Base.”

Whenever those in the Oklahoma City community inform Thunder players that they inspire them, they are always quick to respond by saying that the connection is even more powerful than that. Over the years, including this summer after the May 20th tornado, the Thunder has witnessed first-hand the strength, resolve and loyalty Oklahomans have for one another.

That is why the organization, players and staff are in awe of the resiliency and power of those in the community, inspiring them to compete every night on the court for their city. Oklahomans serving in the military are an important group within this community, making Monday’s visit on Veteran’s Day to honor those who serve this country both fitting and meaningful.

“It’s something very special,” Sefolosha said. “Their parents dedicate and give a lot to their country. It’s great to be able to give back to those families and those kids. They deserve it.”

“They do a lot for our country, a lot of things that are unheard sometimes,” Lamb explained. “Being able to do that while they’re serving our country, being able to interact with their kids, was great.”