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Jaguars, Firehouse Subs to treat 2,000 sailors to football game Thursday

Posted: August 27, 2014 - 2:59pm  |  Updated: August 27, 2014 - 6:26pm

Sailors from the newly arrived Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group are getting a dose of Southern hospitality from the Jaguars and Firehouse subs.

The Jaguars gave 2,000 tickets to sailors of the group, made up of the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and USS Ft. McHenry, for Thursday’s preseason matchup against the Atlanta Falcons and Firehouse subs will provide 2,000 lunches at a pre-game tailgate party.

“Robin Sorensen, one of the co-founders, saw the article about the ships (Iwo Jima and Ft. McHenry) and then raised the flag on it,” said Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse Subs. “We quickly huddled the team and started to brainstorm on what we could do.

“One of the first thoughts that came to mind was to contact the Jaguars and see if they might be interested in doing something with us.”

However, with federal regulations prohibitting corporations from giving gifts to the military, it was necessary to bring in a longtime partner of the Jaguars — the USO.

“Corporations like the Jaguars, they can’t give directly to the troops,” said Mike O’Brien, CEO of the Jacksonville USO. “So that’s where the 501(C)3 USO comes in.

“That’s what we’re here for, to be the broker between corporate America and the troops.”

The Jaguars have a tradition of supporting the military and this was a chance they couldn’t pass up, according to team President Mark Lamping.

“It’s not that often we have the opportunity to welcome home a large group of sailors and their families and we just didn’t think that we could let this opportunity pass,” Lamping said. “We really have to salute Firehouse subs for being such an important part of making this happen.

“We are donating tickets for sailors and their families, but what really makes this special is what Firehouse subs is doing with providing the tailgate before the game.”

The event is certainly a nice welcome for sailors.

O’Brien pointed out why this is so important to the sailors — something many likely don’t realize as they go about their daily lives.

“This will probably be the only game they’ll be able to get to,” he said. “They’re going to be out training for a month, then they’re heading right back out and will be deployed for eight or nine months.

“So for these sailors, this is the game of the year.”

 

Clifford Davis: (904) 359-4103