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Sports Bucket Lists and Wounded Warriors

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As an author, I constantly have spaghetti on my mind. Not due to a pasta passion, but because throughout the day I throw ideas against the rhetorical wall to see if they will stick. If one does, I occasionally ask my parents for their opinion on it.

In February, I came up with my most ambitious concept ever: I'd attend 365 sporting events in 365 days hitting all 50 states and then I'd write a book about my experiences. Breathlessly, I called my folks and shared with them my brainchild. Their unanimous and extremely vocal negative reaction confirmed my gut instinct: "Sports Year" was a winner.

Immediately, I began planning my itinerary. I'd hit all the "tent pole" events, like the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Kentucky Derby, Little League World Series, and so on. I made a list of the famous venues at which I'd like to see an event, like Lambeau Field, Rupp Arena, LSU's Death Valley, the Brickyard in Indianapolis, etc. On the days without big, planned contests, I'd spectate at all levels of collegiate, high school and youth competitions. Boom. I had my script.

But that had one big flaw: it was all about me.

Normally, that's just fine with yours truly, an author who can only hope his readers find him half as entertaining as he finds himself.

But "Sports Year" is a lot bigger than one traveler, a lot more important than a wiseass writer. I needed a cause, a white-hot desire that would propel the journey to greater heights than "hopeless bachelor goes on coolest road trip ever."

As a former Army officer, my cause was easy to identify: the Wounded Warriors Project. Considering that I served during peacetime, as a personnel manager whose only work-related injuries were paper cuts, my helping servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for our country was a natural fit.

Especially since I know from firsthand experience that military members love their athletics. The most heated sports-related arguments I've ever witnessed occurred between soldiers, everyone vociferously defending their home state teams. What could be more apt for "Sports Year," then, than bringing Wounded Warriors to the games and events on their Sports Bucket Lists?

So, that's my plan. Accordingly, I have reached out to the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), asking for assistance in finding servicemen and women who'd like to join me at the sporting events of their choice. Someone might want to attend the Rose Bowl, whereas another might just want to hit his local high school's hockey playoff game. Doesn't matter to me; I simply want to make that Sports Bucket List item come true.

In order for me to do that, I need two things:

First, I need those heroes - or people close to them - to tweet at me (@Sports_Year) or email me (sports.year.jamie@gmail.com) to let me know what contests they'd like to attend. Then we can compare schedules and see when and where we can link up. I can't wait to make that happen week in and week out. Would it be possible to bring 52 people to their dream event? I sure hope so. What about 104? Even better.

Secondly, if you're interested in supporting Sports Year and my efforts to bring Wounded Warriors to a game of their choice, please visit the Kickstarter page.

I kicked off Sports Year on September 5 in Denver at the NFL's opening night game between the Ravens and the Broncos. You might notice that the Kickstarter's deadline is September 13, which means that I'm beginning my journey prior to having all the money. That's exactly what I'm doing. I believe in this project and I hope my early start demonstrates my commitment.

When I first came up with the idea for Sports Year, I sensed that the highlight of the trip wouldn't come at a big event like the Super Bowl. Instead, it would occur at an unplanned stop in a small town, when a stranger invites me in for a home cooked meal. But now I realize that my highlight will come from seeing a Wounded Warrior enter his favorite team's stadium for the first time, or watching her show off her Derby hat on her maiden visit into Churchill Downs. For me, those types of scenarios will make this the most rewarding year of my life.

But please don't let that stop you from inviting me in for spaghetti.