KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Before the Chiefs take the field Monday night against the Broncos, Chiefs Kingdom will be cheering for another team: the men and women of the military.
Monday's game marks the Chiefs' annual Salute to Service game, honoring the men and women in uniform.
There was a time that it was hard for Michael Liscomb, an Army veteran, to think he’d be able to walk again. But he is about to walk onto an NFL field for the very first time and for a very good reason.
“This is my very first NFL game ever. I`m looking forward to it and for it to be of this magnitude, it`s kind of surreal. It`s still sinking in,” Michael said.
Michael is a guest of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Independence Fund and will be receiving a very special wheelchair to help him with daily and physical activities. Michael opted to have his left leg amputated after enduring more than a dozen limb-saving operations over four years due to an injury he sustained while in Iraq in 2012.
“It was taking time away from my kids. It was taking time away from the things I like to do and so finally it was right on the spot, don`t give it a couple days, I asked the doctor if amputation is in the cards. I felt like I would lead a much better life with this then with a year, two years, three years process just to see if we could kill the infection,” he said.
It was a decision that Desiree, Michael’s wife, signed off on and one she is happy they made.
“I saw before the surgery where he`d want to play with the kids but couldn`t necessarily keep up with them because his leg would start hurting but now he can play around with them a lot more and he does a lot more with them,” she said.
The wheelchair is one that will allow him to fish, hunt, and play with his two children. The Independence Fund, an organization based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, has helped Michael and more than 1,900 veterans across the country.
“We are so thrilled to continue to honor so many of our nation`s heroes that have returned having incurred these wounds in the line of duty and being able to get them back out and doing the things they love and having more options to go on vacations with their families and not having to worry about how we are going to navigate the beach and things like that,” Jessica Marinaccio, of Independence Fund, said.
It’s a gift that the Liscomb’s are excited to receive and one they are grateful is being presented in this fashion.
“I`m really shocked, I didn`t think we would be here but I think it`ll hit more tonight when you see all the people sitting there in the stands and he walks out there,” Desiree said.
“I just want to enjoy every minute, I`m taking in every minute while I`m here and who knows if this will ever happen again so I`m trying to take in every minute and every seconds and cherish it so. I feel blessed just to even be considered for this,” Michael said.
The wheelchair runs upwards of $16,000 and it will not cost Michael and his family a single dollar.
The Salute to Service game is part of the Chiefs' ongoing effort to support the military, along with scholarships for Gold Star families, the annual Pros vs. GI Joes event, and participating in efforts for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots collection -- the longest continuous relationship between Toys for Tots and any NFL team.
One special touch for this year's Salute to Service game, the Chiefs are wearing pregame warm-ups that feature the patches of various military units. Those warm-ups will later be delivered to those respective troops over the next few weeks.
The ceremonial "First Pass" was thrown by Olathe native Keara Torkelson, who was wounded in the Fort Hood, Texas shooting in 2009 and received a Purple Heart.
The game also included a number of other gestures, such as featuring military members deployed in Kuwait on the stadium's ArrowVision. Monday night's 50/50 Raffle with benefit Warrior's Ascent.
It's a time-honored tradition of which the Chiefs, and the fans, can be very proud.