Hi. So, I wanted to do a little blog post to document a special night for me and my family. If we’re friends on social media, you probably saw some of the highlights, such as the photo to end all photos, above. :) But I wanted to share some more details and just express my gratefulness for the kindness we were shown by the Thunder organization and TAPS.
Let’s start by chatting about TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) for a second. I have mentioned this great organization on the blog before, but if you’d like to have a more in-depth look at what they do, you can check out there website here. In short, TAPS provides families who have lost a loved one in the military with resources and opportunities for dealing with grief. They not only have seminars and retreats, but they also do cool things like working with a wide variety of teams, organizations, etc, to bring families to fun and cool events. This Thunder game was one of those amazing opportunities. My mom and dad and sister Amber and I had a really wonderful evening!
We started off the night being greeted at the entrance with our tickets for the game. We were taken to the Budweiser Brew House, where we were treated to a delicious dinner. Our waitress was awesome and gave us some great recommendations.I went with the PBLT (Pork Belly Lettuce & Tomato)…yum!! (Btw, did you know: “The Chesapeake Energy Arena is proud to serve all-natural, locally-sourced and locally-grown products from Oklahoma companies that are dedicated to the offering the finest products available anywhere.”??)
This is Debbie. She escorted us to our seats and took the pic of us above. She was incredibly kind and enthusiastic. She knew why we were there and talked to us about my brother Jack. She mentioned that her brother had also been a Green Beret. Pretty cool!Debbie also gave us each a sweet swag bag full of Thunder goodies! I couldn’t resist spreading mine out for a little #flatlay pic the next morning. I mean, look at this loot! :)
Then the team came out to warm up.Russ did a little pregame dancing.Here’s Joe Sharpe, the head trainer for the Thunder, stretching out Russ. Just a few minutes before this, Joe was up at our seats introducing himself to us. See, Joe is the one who got the Thunder organization involved with TAPS. As he told us, he met some people with TAPS when he was a trainer with the USA Men’s Basketball team for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He said he was touched and impressed by the joy he saw it brought to the survivors he met, and he wanted to help bring that to OKC. Joe was so kind and genuine! In fact, he was the one who introduced us to Russ after the game and took our pic with him.Team introductions are always fun! My personal opinion is that Russ does this with Jerami Grant because Grant is the only one on the team who has hops like Russ. ;)I figured Russ was going to tie the triple double record that night, so I tried to get plenty of cool shots of him. #hist0ry :)These ladies had the most clever signs and they got lots of big screen time for it. Good stuff!Once Russ had made history and the game had turned into a blowout, I had to get some pix of fellow-Iowan Nick Collison, aka Mr. Thunder, aka Hair Jordan. Here’s Nick checking out Doug McDermott’s hair form.And Nick doing what he does.After the game, a good amount of people in the stands lingered to cheer as Russ left the court after doing his post-game interview. Chants of “MVP” rang out, and it was a very neat moment! We LOVE Russ!We were allowed to wait in the stands to see the players who came back out. We got this pic with Joe out on the court, and then we met Russ.The moment of meeting Russ with my parents is one I will never forget. My dad, who has never been phased by anyone he’s ever met, tapped his own heart with his fist and then reached over and tapped Russell’s heart! Russ was cheesing and said thank you and shook his hand. It was awesome and funny and amazing! We congratulated Russ on the incredible triple double feat, and on his baby on the way. His wife Nina was right out there, too, looking all glowy and gorgeous. It was just a very cool moment. And so nice of Joe to bring us out there and let us meet Russ and everything! We were so very touched!
And as if all of this wasn’t cool enough on its own, this happened to be April 4th, and Jack’s birthday was April 5th!! So we got to celebrate and remember Jack in such an incredible way! My cup runneth over. :)
HUGE thanks to Joe and the Thunder organization and TAPS!!!!!