Click HERE to view photos of the event.


We are going to call the 5th Annual Tailgate with a Hero at DeBakey a success! It was a little hot - maybe more like a lot hot – but we powered through. Here are a few numbers for you:

1. We served at least 1,300 meals – probably more. I had a few bites of the steak (filets) and it was incredible! Absolutely melted in my mouth! I had one bite of catfish which was excellent as usual, but other than that didn’t get to try the other food. I did actually hear someone say that the hamburger was the best they had ever had – not making that up.

2. We had over 150 volunteers sign in! That is by far the most we have ever had at DeBakey or any of our events. Organizations represented include:

* Mission Bend United Methodist Church
* First Baptist Church of Navasota
* Houston’s First Baptist at Sienna
* Second Baptist Church – West/Katy Fwy. Campus
* Houston Sunrise Kiwanis
* American Legion Post 391
* University of Houston American Medical Students Association
* Stratford High School National Honor Society
* American Heritage Girls Troop 1378
* Johnson Development
* Commercial Sound & Satellite
* All Points Surveying
* Costello, Inc.
* And lots of people who just wanted to come out and say thank you to veterans who were not attached to any particular organization

3. I think everyone agreed that this was the smoothest Tailgate at DeBakey we have ever had. I don’t know if that is because a lot of us have now found our niche and have some experience with our part in the process, or if it is because we had so many volunteers this year, or exactly what, but whatever the reason, things seemed to go very well. Food was plated and sent into the hospital inside of an hour.

4. We have lots of pictures from last Saturday and we will get them out there into the virtual world soon – we will let you know where they can be found.

5. Our only complaint – we need more veterans out there! I don’t know if the heat may have kept some of the patients inside the hospital that would normally come outside, or what, but we need to find a way to get more veterans to attend. I am convinced we could serve 2,000 meals if there were enough veterans in attendance to feed. Let’s work on this before next year.

6. If you have any expenses to be reimbursed, get your receipts with your name on it to me or Dan Wingerson. We don’t have a tally on our expenses yet but we started out (before buying caps) with a little over $10,000 in total (we are working on a list of our donors) which should be plenty to fund our tailgate season.

7. And the rest of the season is starting to take shape as follows:

- Saturday November 16th – a National Guard Unit’s Family Day on the west side of Harris County – exact location to be determined. Looks like a total of about 250 meals needed.

- Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014 - A Super Bowl Party at DeGeorge at Union Station. We have been to DeGeorge several times which exclusively serves veterans escaping homelessness in their 100 room facility near Minute Maid Park. We are planning a late lunch for the residents at DeGeorge plus the many persons in need who have always walked up on our previous trips. Maybe a total of 300 meals. Details to follow

- March 2014 (exact date to be determined) – Midtown Terrace – A US Vets facility in the museum area which also exclusively serves veterans escaping homelessness. Midtown has recently expanded and now provides housing to approximately 500 veterans. We will plan to serve around 600 meals in total. Details to follow.

- We definitely also want to make a trip to The Domiciliary in the next few months – no date set yet. The Dom is a VA facility near the DeBakey VA campus which also provides housing to veterans escaping homelessness. They house about 40 veterans at a time so only a small crew needed for this tailgate.

8. The Big Tailgate back at DeBakey next year will, as always, be on the first Saturday in October – that is October 4, 2014. So if you keep a calendar that far ahead, mark it down!

A big thank you to all of you volunteers and supporters. If you were not there last Saturday, be sure to know that your support was greatly appreciated by the veterans in the hospital and present. One of the veterans there told one of my daughters that it was the best meal they had in two years.

Thank you!

Ralph N. Wissel