It was a football stadium full of crowd favorites last night, including an honor guard of more than 30 Helping Paws service dogs.

Super Bowl LII kicks off on Sunday, but the Wednesday night competition in Saint Paul between the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team versus a team of former NFL players held significance for those playing and those watching. The 20 players on the WWAFT roster—veterans who lost a limb in the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts—took on legends of pro football, including former Minnesota Vikings Rich Gannon, Robert Smith, Ben Leber, Sage Rosenfels, Todd Bouman, and Talance Sawyer.

Let’s cut to the chase: The Wounded Warriors extended their win streak to 18-0, defeating the NFL greats 63-42. 

The night was a demonstration of determination to overcome setbacks and persevere through obstacles, something the Helping Paws service dogs get familiar with every day as they work beside their lifelong partners. Wounded Warriors invited Helping Paws to be a presence at the game in an effort to highlight the need for service dogs for veterans. The dogs and their foster home trainers lined up as a welcome for the players’ introductory charge onto the field. The entrance and welcome ranked high in terms of lumps-in-the-throat moments.

 

 

A number of media outlets showcased the story. This video clip from KSTP shows the Helping Paws dogs:

Wounded Warriors Play NFL Legends.  

 

 

All photos courtesy of Steve McCuskey.