It’s become one of the most memorable moments each night at arenas throughout the NHL, and it’s gaining momentum in Buffalo. A member of the Armed Forces is recognized in the stands and the fans stand to give their applause and gratitude.
At each Buffalo Sabres home game, one player donates tickets in the 100 Level to sponsor the “Tickets For Troops” initiative, in which a member of the military from Western New York is honored for their service and dedication.
Over the summer, the opportunity for a new player to donate to “Tickets for Troops” presented itself. Multiple Sabres were interested, and after a drawing, defenseman Mike Weber was chosen as the new face of the program.
When an active service member or veteran is selected to take part, they receive two tickets to a home game along with a Weber jersey and a hat. The jersey is a new addition to the program this year.
“Obviously these men and women do a lot for us, and the jersey was just something extra I wanted to do for them,” Weber said. “It's a little thing that I’m doing and I hope it helps give them some of the recognition they deserve.”
Weber’s generosity ensures that it’s a night the service member will not forget, while also creating a special memory for himself as he meets the individuals recognized by the program. Weber meets with the men and women after the game, and the mutual admiration is very apparent throughout.
“It’s really exciting to meet them and they’ve been excited to meet me,” said Weber. “A lot of the other players also come in and introduce themselves. What they sacrifice for us and what they do for our country is amazing. I am very humbled and honored to be able to do this.”
The influence reaches far beyond the individual service member, Weber, and the rest of the organization. After a recent game, Tyler Ennis took a moment to meet a serviceman’s son who was wearing an Ennis jersey. The two chatted for a few moments before Ennis signed the jersey for him.
“We are always very grateful and proud when our players take the initiative to get involved in supporting the community,” explained Rich Jureller, the Sabres’ Director of Community Relations. “Mike’s generosity and commitment to the Tickets for Troops program is a great example of how our players give back to the many deserving individuals in Western New York.”
As an American with family serving in the Armed Forces, “Tickets for Troops” holds a special meaning for Weber.
“My brother is in the Air Force Reserves right now. He is an electrical engineer working on the refueling planes based out of Pittsburgh, and he’s done three or four tours of duty overseas,” Weber said. “It is something close to my heart. My grandfather fought in the Korean War, and he was in the Marines, so it is something that has been always been in my life. It’s an honor that I can sponsor ‘Tickets for Troops.’”
If you or someone you know would like to be recognized by “Tickets for Troops” at an upcoming home game, please contact Lauren Yurko (716-855-4468) or click here to submit your information.
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