Richard Mariello, U.S. Army Specialist and Easter Seals‘ National Adult Representative, and his son Jeremiah boarded a plane in Portland, ME and made the trip down south to enjoy Super Bowl weekend courtesy of CENTURY 21. Neither Richard nor his son had ever been to a professional sporting event.
Read on to hear about their weekend of adventures in New Orleans and how Richard is spreading the word about supporting our nation’s veterans in his new role with Easter Seals.
C21: Have you always wanted to go to the Super Bowl?
RM: This was actually my first NFL game ever. My son’s first too. My wife and I are foster parents and our whole life we’ve never treated ourselves. Our priority is giving to other people. We never had money to go to a professional game, we just couldn’t afford it.
C21: Who did you take with you to the game?
RM: I took my oldest son, Jeremiah. He is 16 years old.
C21: Did you wear jerseys?
RM: We didn’t. I wore my Easter Seals shirt and Jeremiah wore a shirt of his favorite band. I’m glad we didn’t wear jerseys, our section was quite rowdy. We didn’t want to cross any passionate fans. Most of the people in our section were rooting for the Ravens.
C21: Who were you rooting for?
RM: We were rooted for the 49ers. As Patriots fans, we couldn’t root for the Ravens. They were the team that took us out! It was a matter of principle.
C21: What was your favorite part of being there, live for the game?
RM: Everything! Honestly, I’d have to say the best part was getting the full, behind the scenes experience. We watched the players warming up. We got to see the kickers making 60 yard field goals during practice.
When you see the players running on TV, they look fast, but in person they are even faster.
Sitting as close as we were, we could hear the tackles, hear the yelling. We were right in the 49ers end zone.
We were also amazed with the half time show crew. They set up Beyonce’s entire set in three minutes and took it down in five minutes. That was really incredible. We really got to see the reality of the whole game experience.
RM: We did. We got in the Friday before the game. On Saturday we spent about four hours at the World War II Museum. We also walked the entire length of Bourbon Street and explored the French Quarter. People in New Orleans are so friendly. They really understand hospitality.
C21: New Orleans is known for their food. Did you sample any of the traditional treats?
RM: We did. It’s hard to pick a favorite. We loved the gumbo, the beignets and the pralines. We also had a great time at a chicken shack where we ordered delicious fried chicken.
C21: Did you visit Café du Monde?
RM: We did! We even brought beignet mix to bring back home to the family.
C21: There were quite a few celebrities in town for the game, did you have any sightings?
RM: We did! My son physically ran into Michael Phelps. Michael was on his way to an interview and literally walked into Jeremiah. We also saw Julie Chen, Hines Ward and the cast of “Duck Dynasty.” Everyone wanted to take pictures with the Duck guys!
C21: Tell us, how long have you been working with Easter Seals?
RM: Since I was deployed in 2011. My family hooked up with Easter Seals right before I left. When I came home in 2012 I spoke at an Easter Seals event and someone wrote an article about my talk. It kind of snowballed from there and now I am the Easter Seals National Adult Representative and Veteran Representative.
RM: I travel all over the country to talk about the Easter Seals Veterans Program. In fact, I will be at the CENTURY 21 Global Conference next month in Las Vegas.
I speak about the importance of helping veterans and their families. When our veterans come home sometimes they need help finding a job, or they have stress or anxiety issues and they need to seek support. Easter Seals helps make that happen.
C21: Did you ever think you would become a public speaker on this topic?
RM: I really didn’t. I am doing this for all the veterans who do not have the chance to take a stage and express how necessary these programs are. I am doing this for all of us. Not everyone gets this chance.
C21: If you are attending the CENTURY 21 Global Conference in Las Vegas you will have the chance to meet Richard and speak to him about his experience with Easter Seals in person.
If you are interested in how you or your team can help veterans in your area, please visit the CENTURY 21 Recruiting America’s Heroes Program website.