There will be thousands of football fans from throughout the nation and the world at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, but it’s likely few will enjoy the game as much as a Norcross resident whose husband made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Kami Kennedy, whose husband, Major Thomas Kennedy, lost his life serving in Afghanistan in August 2012, will be on hand for pro football’s biggest day after Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Ben Garland showed up on the Kennedy’s doorstep with tickets in early January.
Now battling cancer, Kennedy has been an ardent supporter of the military community, hosting an annual golf tournament, dinner and silent auction to benefit the Virginia-based Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, whose stated mission is to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.
Kennedy’s efforts have resulted in raising in excess of $140,000, which according to the Fallen Patriots will help fund 22.4 years of college. The foundation reports that research has shown that in the past 35 years, nearly 20,000 dependents have been left behind by troops killed in the line of duty. Many surviving families struggle to make ends meet, with 63 percent of surviving spouses earning less than $50,000 per year. It was further reported that there’s a funding gap of $32,000 between government assistance programs and the cost of a four-year college degree.
A release from the foundation said Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB group, which is in charge with all business operations for the Falcons, is a Fallen Patriots board member who helped coordinate the introduction between the foundation and Garland, who played collegiately at Air Force, serves as a captain in the Air National Guard during the offseason and spends his free time connecting with military families.
“When you give that gift to somebody…that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Garland told Fox 5 Atlanta. “It’s a memory that will live on forever and I think that’s what life’s all about – the relationships you build and the memories you make.”
Garland started giving out Super Bowl tickets last year. This year he was able to purchase three pairs of tickets and gave them all away.