Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Ben Garland knows the sacrifices military families make all too well.
The 30-year-old Colorado native attended the Air Force Academy before becoming a second lieutenant, and serving two years on active duty, where he was deployed to Jordan. Today, he’s a captain with the Air National Guard 140th Security Forces Squadron.
That’s why he decided to surprise three military families with tickets to Super Bowl LIII.
One of those people Garland surprised was Kammi Kennedy, a mother of two who lost her husband, Major Thomas Kennedy, while he was serving in Afghanistan in 2012. She’s also battling cancer that has recently spread.
“I thought I was going out to dinner with some friends, and the doorbell rang, and I opened the door, and Ben Garland from the Falcons was standing there,” Kennedy told CBS 46.
“I was shocked. I’m so excited! I love sports, I love football, so this is a really fun opportunity, I’ve never been to an event like this,” she added.
To have a place for her grief to go, Kennedy hosts an annual golf outing and auction to benefit Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots), an organization that provides college scholarships and counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. To date, she’s raised more than $140,000, according to 11 Alive.
“Ben, when he showed up, he kind of knew my back story, I’m currently fighting cancer right now as well, so he just knew that in the midst of everything that I’m going through, I’m still really active and trying to give back,” Kennedy told CBS 46.
Kennedy, who will be bringing her sister to the big game, says the day will be the thrill of a lifetime. It will also offer a little respite from her daily grind.
So, while Garland won’t be playing in the big game, he can be proud that his impact is extending somewhere far more important than a football field.