Bob Woodruff Foundation, NFL, and Little Caesars Love Kitchen Team Up for Veterans
The NFL, Little Caesars Love Kitchen, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) hosted a Salute to Service event during the 2023 NFL Draft week to raise awareness and support for organizations dedicated to assisting veterans, service members, caregivers, and their families in the Kansas City community.
More than 350 attendees ate pizza served by the Little Caesars Love Kitchen, toured Arrowhead Stadium, participated in family-friendly football skills and drills, packed household kits for local veterans, met Chiefs cheerleaders and KC Wolf, and painted a one-of-a-kind mural that embodied the essence of this exceptional event.
Gretchen Meitler, an Army veteran who attended with her family, shared that she “received an email through the VA and thought this would be a fun opportunity for me and my kids. I have a lot of friends that are civilians so they don’t understand the camaraderie among military families. This was a great event.”
Uniting Through Art
BWF’s lead designer, Caitlyn Silverstorf, designed the participatory mural to unite and encourage community building through art. Each square of the mural was personal to its creator and was combined to form a single piece of artwork that will live at Midwest Adaptive Sports.
“It was rewarding to see everyone’s eagerness to participate,” says Silverstorf. “I’m proud of what this community did to bring the mural to fruition. Maybe someone here was influenced by a fellow participant’s work, or a child made a new friend as they painted together, or someone just ran with their own imagination.”
Also during the event, three Kansas City veteran support organizations were recognized for their work and service to the community: KC Footprints, Veterans Community Project, and Move United/Midwest Adaptive Sports. The NFL and Little Caesars presented a total of $50,000 to the organizations.
KC Footprints: Helping Veterans Get Back on Their Feet
KC Footprints, which operates Heroes Home Gate, is an organization that provides unhoused veterans with essential services twenty-four hours a day, including three daily meals and access to case managers, clinical supervisors, and program assistants who can help veterans transition to independent living by covering costs such as application fees, housing deposits, and eviction costs as well as placing veterans and their families in permanent housing. Additionally, KC Footprints helps veterans receive medical care, and participate in support group services.
“What a great opportunity for veterans to see how the community, organizations, and foundations are invested in their well-being. We’re trying to provide our veterans with opportunities to hang out with everyday people or with their own families in a healthy way. Teaching and giving veterans the chance to learn healthy boundaries is a key component to our work.” said Joel Bailey, director of KC Footprints.
The team at KC Footprints was particularly grateful for the household supplies that event attendees packed, which will be distributed to veterans in need.
Veterans Community Project: Creating Community At Veterans Village
Also joining us in Kansas City was the Veterans Community Project (VCP), who also received the supply kits assembled at the event. VCP helps veterans get back on their feet by providing services for housing, health care, counseling, and case management. Their Veterans Village is a collection of furnished tiny homes equipped with basic amenities giving residents a sense of privacy, security, and community. Built around a community center, veterans receive medical and mental health services and participate in support groups, job training programs, cooking lessons, and social activities. VCP aims to help veterans achieve independence and reintegrate into society. In addition to its housing and support services, VCP assists veterans with job placements, continuing education, and training, and accessing other community resources they may not be aware of.
Move United and the Kansas City Chiefs Wheelchair Football Team
Attendees also celebrated the Kansas City Chiefs’ wheelchair football team, which won the 2023 USA Wheelchair Football Championship the same week the Chiefs brought home the Super Bowl LVII title. The team trains out of Midwest Adaptive Sports and is part of Move United’s USA Wheelchair Football League, funded by an NFL-BWF Salute to Service grant. Members of the championship team volunteered during the Draft event by running football skills and drills – lightly competitive activities for kids of all ages that demonstrated the power of sports for inclusivity and community building.
The unwavering support from the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, Little Caesars, KC Footprints, the Veterans Community Project, and the Chiefs’ wheelchair football team was evident in their collective support to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families.
For more information about the NFL-BWF Salute to Service partnership, visit our website.