BOSTON – The Boston Celtics and the Massachusetts Army National Guard partnered to hold the seventh annual “Seats for Soldiers” night during their game against the Philadelphia 76ers Jan. 29, 2014 at the TD Garden here.
The event was the result of the collective generosity of season-ticket holders who donated nearly 1,300 tickets so members of the military and a guest could enjoy an exciting night of basketball as the Celtics hosted the 76ers.
During halftime, eight Soldiers were brought out onto the court to be recognized for outstanding achievement for earning the title of distinguished honor graduate at their respective Army Advanced Individual Training sites. Boston Celtics Team President Rich Gotham and Celtics legend JoJo White presented the soldiers with custom designed challenge coins as a symbol of appreciation and to reward each of these individuals for their professional accomplishments.
The Soldiers from Massachusetts honored were: Pvt. Rafael Belliard, wheeled vehicle mechanic from Lawrence; Pfc. Christina Vasquez, military policemen from Malden; Pfc. Kayla Harvey, motor transport operator from Wrentham; and Meybelin Salmeronrivas, motor transport operator from Lynn.
The Soldiers from New Hampshire were: Pfc. Seth Holbrook, aircraft power plant operator from Loudon; Pvt. Brandon Nichols, human resource specialist from Salem; Pvt. Andrew Smith, small arms and artillery repairer from Manchester; and Pvt. Skylar Anderson from Derry.
After coming off the court, Pvt. Rafael Belliard said, “I was nervous at first but being out there and representing the Guard was awesome! I’ve never been to a Celtic’s game before.
Ken Harvey, whose daughter Pvt. Kayla Harvey was honored at halftime said, “I’ve been to a lot of games here but I have never enjoyed one like I did tonight. Seeing her out there as part of the military group being honored made me feel very proud and patriotic. She’s not my little girl anymore,” said Harvey.
While the Soldiers were on the court some fans began chanting U.S.A.
The Massachusetts National Guard’s Voices of Freedom from the 215th Army Band, sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to kick off the evening.