By Mrs. Debra Preitkis (JFHQNCR/MDW)November 13, 2009
ASHBURN, Va. Nov. 10, 2009 -- Spc. Demaro McFarlane, a Soldier with DC National Guard, grew up in the National Capital Region and is a huge Washington Redskins fan. "Growing up I thought these guys were Gods. To actually see them as regular people is just ... Wow."
More than 20 Soldiers and Marines from the National Capital Region got a chance to do what many sports fans only dream of ... play video games 'one-on-one' with Washington Redskins players. On Tuesday the team invited military personnel and their families to their Ashburn, Va., training facility for a live video game competition between players, military personnel and several troops at the USO center in Qatar.
The event wasn't just a treat for the Soldiers and Marines, it was a chance for the sports stars to meet their heroes. "The thing that they don't probably know is I respect them way more than they respect me," said Redskins center, Edwin Williams. "They're the real heroes. That's the truth."
During the video game completion, football players, Soldiers and Marines played the game "Guitar Hero" thanks to the non-profit group Pro vs. GI Joe. The charity sets up real-time video game competitions between professional athletes, musicians, celebrities, high-ranking military officials in the states with troops overseas -via the Internet. They use PlayStation, Xbox Live and/or the Nintendo Wii.
Greg Zinone founded the program with his wife, Addie, a public affairs staff sergeant in the Army Reserve. "Me not being a military person, I had no idea what goes on overseas. Addie told me that they play video games on their downtime. I know from my days playing football at West Virginia that that's all we did after practice. We put the two together about two and a half years ago, and we've been going pretty strong ever since."
Addie Zinone said the game means they don't need to be in the same place, "We can hook them up wherever we want. And we give the troops the opportunity to go head-to-head with a professional athlete on an even playing field."
Wide receiver Santana Moss didn't make it to the stage, but showed his support with his pen by signing autographs. It wasn't just the players who made an appearance; Coach Jim Zorn also got a chance to thank the troops.
Will Robinson, offensive tackle with the Redskins, put it very simply by saying "It's good to give back to them, because they give so much to us."