CLEVELAND (WJW) — U.S. Marine Corps veteran Bobby Colleran thought he was just getting a tour of FirstEnergy Stadium ahead of Sunday’s Browns game, but he left with $25,000 in his pocket — figuratively speaking, at least.
The oversized $25,000 check the North Ridgeville man received as a surprise gift from CrossCountry Mortgage and the Cleveland Browns as part of its Salute to Service game on Sunday, Nov. 27, will go toward his housing costs, according to a news release.
“I am really having a hard time to talk right now. It’s kind of a speechless moment,” he said after the award. “CrossCountry Mortgage, Cleveland Browns — thank you. It’s incredible you take care of veterans like this. I saw a bunch of soldiers downstairs in their uniforms getting taken care of. It’s just A-plus treatment. It’s awesome.”
Colleran was raised by his grandfather, who is also a veteran, and was deployed to Afghanistan.
More than 60 Ohio veterans and military family members from CrossCountry Mortgage carried the American flag onto the field on Sunday. They represent nearly 300 veterans and active-duty servicemembers across the company, according to the release.
“The American dream of homeownership wouldn’t be possible without the selfless service of our military,” Laura Soave, CrossCountry spokesperson, is quoted in the release. “Support for the Military community is part of our always-on CCM Cares efforts, and we are honored to participate in events that honor the brave individuals who protect our nation and our rights year-round.”
It was one of several gameday honors on Sunday:
Prior to kickoff, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Simon — a North Canton native who served 19 years in the Marines — was to be the team’s First and Ten Coin Toss Captain.
The national anthem was to be sung by retired Navy Petty Officer First Class Generald Wilson.
US Army Helicopters from the Ohio Army National Guard 1-137th Aviation Regiment were to do a flyover.
The country’s colors were to be presented by the United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard.
During halftime, the Browns will help showcase a presentation by the United States Coast Guard Silent Drill Team.
Browns fans also participated in the efforts through Sunday’s Browns Give Back First and Ten Toy Drive, in partnership with US Marines and Electronic Merchant Systems. Everyone was encouraged to bring new unwrapped gifts ($10+) for kids in need within Cuyahoga County or make a monetary donation at the gates when entering the stadium.