Anthony Villarreal first attended a Texas Tech football game when he was 7 years old, and he was forever hooked.
“I never miss a game,” the 25-year-old Lubbock native said on Monday. “I go to every single game.”
Villarreal will be back at Jones AT&T Stadium on Nov. 6, when the Red Raiders host Missouri for their homecoming game, and the experience is likely to be his best yet. That’s because his favorite team will be supporting a cause that’s near and dear to his heart.
The Red Raiders will wear black uniforms with camouflage trim and cleats, along with a camouflage double-T logo on their helmets, as part of Under Armour’s UA Freedom initiative benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that provides services and a support group for injured members of the armed forces and their families, has been a godsend to Villarreal. The former Marine was severely injured by an improvised explosive device two years ago in Afghanistan, losing most of his right arm and the fingers on his left hand while suffering burns on about 60 percent of his body.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Villarreal said of Tech’s participation. “It helps out a lot of guys. They really don’t see where the money goes to, but the Wounded Warrior Project and all the colleges that help out, they help us get back out into the world and get us stuff that we need.”
Tech’s game day jerseys will later be auctioned on texastech.com, with all the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. UA Freedom director Bryan Offutt said the foundation will receive about 10 percent of the proceeds from related Tech apparel, which will be on sale at underarmour.com, Academy Sports and Outdoors, and in the student union on the Tech campus.
In the initiative’s first year last season, when Maryland and South Carolina participated, Offutt said more than $150,000 was raised. He hopes to raise even more this year because three schools — Tech, Maryland and Utah — are taking part.
“It’s going to be a big honor for our team. They’re looking forward to it,” Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “It’s a beautiful uniform ... and hopefully it’ll make big sales in stores and hopefully raise a lot of money for this project.”
The cause is especially meaningful to Tuberville, whose father spent his adult life in the Army. Charles Tuberville fought in World War II, received five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, and drove a tank through the streets of Paris during the Allied liberation of the French capital.
In two of the last three years, Tommy Tuberville was part of a group of college coaches who toured United States military bases the Middle East.
“Growing up in the military, and of course going through the Vietnam War and having some friends get killed and all that kind of stuff, brings home this wounded warrior situation,” he said. “And having the opportunity to go over and see what they go through, it’s mind-boggling.”
Offutt said each of the dozen or so schools under contract with Under Armour were invited to participate, and “Texas Tech jumped right at the opportunity.” So he’s grateful to have the Red Raiders’ support.
“The Wounded Warrior Project games are a big initiative for us,” Offutt said. “We just hope Texas Tech will stick with us for this year and years to go.”
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