Vet Tix offers free event tickets to military members, hits major milestonePosted: Updated:
Creating memories for military members and their families is the mission of Vet Tix.
"All these wonderful people like the Coyotes and the Diamondbacks and the Rattlers and concert venues, they donate all these tickets and you can sign up and say you'd like them," Army vet Steven Bartolomei explained.
He's done it several times.
"I've brought my kids to basketball games, gone to Suns games, gone to Rattlers games," he said.
They are events he may not have otherwise been able to attend with the whole family in tow.
"It's awesome," he said.
All those experiences made possible by Vet Tix. The nonprofit was started right here in Arizona by a Navy veteran whose 2008 Super Bowl experience was slightly soured after learning the color guard was not able to stay and watch the game.
"The entire game, two seats to his left sat empty and he thought, 'Why couldn't those tickets be donated? And then we could have those military folks come up and enjoy the game,'" Eddie Rausch, one of the founders of Vet Tix and it's COO and chairman, said.
The organization's goal is to never let a seat go unused.
It gets tickets donated from venues, from corporate partners, season ticket holders and more.
"An empty seat doesn't do anybody any good so let's give it back to those who give us the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms and the events that we do," Rausch said.
"Veteran Tickets Foundation is concerned that too many veterans are missing out on the All-American moments for which they have fought and sacrificed," reads the organization's website. "These All-American events are the times we should use to welcome and acknowledge our veterans. These events provide essential community re-integration, family bonding experiences and improve quality of life. These events are real gifts of gratitude for veterans who have given so much."
Active military members and veterans can sign up at VetTix.org. Click "Create an Account" link in the upper right corner of the page.
Vet Tix recently hit a major milestone, with more than half a million people enrolling. Even more tickets have been given out.
"Hopefully we'll hit about 1.2 million tickets distributed this year," Rausch said.
Thursday night was D-Backs night at the Coyotes game in Glendale, Vet Tix was given 200 tickets for the game and an opportunity to fundraise.
"Created a Diamondback themed jersey, the players wore them on ice for the pre-game then took them off and autographed them and we're now auctioning those jerseys off to raise funds," Rausch said.
The organization's efforts and the generosity of the venues and donors are not lost on the tickets recipients.
"We appreciate you supporting us, it's a good thing," said Bartolomei.
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