How do you thank a veteran?
A simple thank you goes a long way. But in honor of Veteran's Day and the NFL's Salute to Service, the Colts wanted to do something special.
"It's Veteran's Day and it's all about getting out in the community and saying thank you to people that really did take two or three years out of their life to serve their country and serve their community," said Erich Orrick, Vice President of Wish For Our Heroes. "It's all about giving back to these guys."
And that's what they did.
On Tuesday, the Colts, Kittle’s Furniture, and Wish for Our Heroes teamed up to deliver new mattresses to 100 veterans in the Indianapolis area.
The Indianapolis Colts teamed up with Kittles to deliver 100 mattresses to Indiana Veterans.
"Military guys, they wear this 12-pound helmet, they wear a 25-pound vest practically every day. Sometimes, they have injuries that prevent them from living a wonderful lifestyle," Orrick said. "So, when you have a company like Tempur-Pedic and Kittle's stepping up with partners like the Colts to make a veteran's life a little bit better, you can actually change lives. You can help them rest every night. And it's just really great that we're helping our veterans this way."
Veterans like Eric Mayer, a 2004 graduate of Noblesville High School who served in the Marine Corp from 2004 to 2012. A sharp shooter who deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, Sgt. Mayer was hand chosen for the General's personal security detail and was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals for his work.
"Eric?" said Colts safety Matthias Farley, as Mayer opened his front door on Tuesday morning.
"Yeah," he responded.
"What's going on? I'm Matthias."
"Nice to meet you," he said.
"We've got a ball for you. We've got a mattress for you. We've got the news for you – you're going to be famous. It's going to be awesome," Farley said.
A few seconds later, Colts mascot, Blue stumbled into the house followed by delivery people from Kittle's.
They took away Mayer's old mattress and replaced it with a brand new Tempur-Pedic mattress.
"It's pretty awesome," he said. "Our old mattress was a hand me down. It creaked and made terrible noises."
Like many veterans, Mayer has some physical reminders of his service.
"Achy knees, achy back, maybe this will help," he said.
Kenny Wilson joined the National Guard before graduating from Noblesville High School in 2000. He was deployed to Iraq 2003, where he served on a Special Forces unit. He returned home in 2004 and spends a lot of his time volunteering. He serves on the board for the Noblesville Elementary Football League, the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton County, and he helps coach his son's football team.
Grateful is how he described himself on Tuesday.
"That was a huge surprise. What you guys are doing is flat-out amazing," he said. "I honestly have not had a new mattress in like 15 years. It's just one of those things – mattresses are like a thousand bucks and quite honestly, we didn't have a thousand bucks to drop on a mattress."
Sleep is something most of us take for granted, Farley said.
"On a day to day basis, to have a new mattress just makes a big difference in every aspect of your life - because you have to rest. These men and women have taken so much on their backs to ensure that we can play football and those things. So, to be a part of it is very rewarding and humbling."
It's one thing to thank a veteran. It's another thing to show up at their house and shake their hand. But to show up, thank them in person, and leave them with something that could change their life was an opportunity Farley couldn't pass up.
"They're all heroes. There's a reason we have the best country in the world and these men and women are the reason that we have the best country - and to come and just be a part of it is awesome," he said. "The best way to spend a Tuesday ever."