Bill Leisure had not been to an Orlando Magic game prior to Wednesday's season finale. But don't be surprised if he returns to Amway Center for many more games next season and beyond.
The overall experience, as he and his wife Cheryl acknowledged, was a "dream come true."
Leisure, who served his country in the U.S. Air Force from 1967-1971, and his wife were honored during Wednesday's game as part of Operation Homefront, an organization that provides emergency financial aid and other services to military families and wounded warriors.
In addition to a courtside view of the game, luxury car service to and from the arena and a private dining experience, Leisure was recently awarded a newly renovated mortgage-free home in Melbourne, FL, made possible through the Magic's Champions of the Community partner Chase, and was presented with several surprise gifts including a vacation getaway.
It was all made possible with the help from the Magic and their partner Chase.
"Never could have dreamed this," Leisure said from his courtside seat. "It's made a basketball fan out of me. Fantastic!"
As an Air Force Staff Sergeant, Leisure worked as an aircraft maintenance technician. He was deployed to Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star. Following his military career, Leisure worked in chemical sales for more than 30 years before retiring in 2006.
As a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, he continues to help other Vietnam veterans and is working to establish a chapter of the organization in Mellbourne.
He and his wife moved into their new home in February and say they feel incredibly blessed to be in this position.
"We love it!" Bill and Cheryl simultaneously shouted with elation when asked how they are enjoying their new residence.
The two also enjoy camping and plan on traveling around the U.S. in the coming months. They will use the gifts they were awarded, compliments of Chase, Marriott Vacation Club and Southwest Airlines, to fulfill those arrangements.
Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. To learn more about their efforts, visit www.OperationHomefront.net