The Boston Celtics treated troops to a slam-dunk event Friday. As part of the third annual Seats for Soldiers program, some Celtics fans gave up their tickets to the game against the Pacers, donating their seats to members of the U.S. armed forces and their families.
More than 600 tickets were given to the USO New England for distribution among the military branches. The Celtics donated $10 for each ticket purchased for Seats for Soldiers to the Fisher House, which provides free or low-cost housing for veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.
Boston Celtics team president Rich Gotham takes pride in the program.
"We are proud to honor the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed forces through our Seats for Soldiers program," Gotham said. "Our fans have shown amazing generosity the last few years in donating their tickets to these courageous individuals who defend our country."
OmniPresence provided a live videoconference to members of the Armed Forces stationed overseas to watch the game. In addition, family members connected with loved ones stationed overseas with the help of Celtics mascot Lucky, members of the Celtics Dancers and Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell.
"This was a very unique experience," OmniPresence CEO Tom Wing said. "In several other sporting events, we have connected our troops via videoconferencing, but during this Celtics game, we integrated the entire game experience into the video call."
USO New England's executive director Jean Mallon feels the program follows the USO tradition perfectly.
"The Seats for Soldiers program is an excellent opportunity for us to continue the USO tradition of providing first-class entertainment to our troops and their families," Mallon said. "The Boston Celtics fans are among the most patriotic, and their generous support has a great impact on boosting morale."
The Seats for Soldiers donations are a product of a unique collaborative effort among the USO New England, Boston Celtics, Celtics players, Celtics season-ticket holders and fans that purchased tickets for the March 12 home game. All of the seats donated were provided voluntarily.