PHILADELPHIA — NOV. 6, 2019 — The Philadelphia 76ers announced today details for the annual “Stars & Stripes” initiative, in partnership with Toyota. The campaign tips off with Military Appreciation Night on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. ET against the Charlotte Hornets. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a co-branded Toyota and 76ers rally towel.
The NBA, its teams and players, have a long history of collaborating with the military. The 76ers and Toyota’s sixth annual “Stars & Stripes” initiative enhances the NBA’s mission to honor military and their families, veteran-serving organizations and retired service men and women.
“As part of our longtime partnership with Toyota, we’re committed to a season-long celebration of our Nation’s armed forces through the ‘Stars & Stripes’ platform, highlighted by Sunday’s Military Appreciation Night,” Philadelphia 76ers President Chris Heck said. “This is an important initiative for the 76ers and Toyota, aligning our brands in our missions to serve local communities. It’s an honor and privilege to recognize the remarkable men and women of the United States Armed Services on Sunday and throughout the year.”
“The Tri-State Toyota Dealers are pleased and honored to join forces again with the 76ers to support our active military and veterans here in the Delaware Valley. This is our home, and these are our local service men and women to recognize and support,” said Paul Muller, President of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association.
The 76ers will celebrate more than 500 active and retired service men and women during various recognitions throughout Military Appreciation Night, starting with the pregame recognition of the Alpha Bravo Canine Unit, a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs to help veterans with combat-related disabilities. The eight new recruits that the organization recently accepted into the program will be presented with a pin on-court to commemorate the start of their journey to serving veterans. During the national anthem, 40 members of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will hold a 1,700-square-foot American flag.
Prior to the game, the 76ers will host a Stars & Stripes Clinic, presented by Toyota, for more than 30 military youth from Joint Base McGuire Dix-Lakehurst. The youth will participate in skills and drills led by Jr. 76ers coaches, while Hon. Patrick Murphy, America’s first Iraq War veteran elected to U.S. Congress, will be available to speak prior to the clinic.
“The Army and Marine Corps were founded in Philadelphia, so there is no more appropriate place to honor and support members of our Nation’s military than right here in our hometown,” said Murphy.
Then right before tipoff, the 76ers will recognize 14-year-old Elijah Byrd as the Strong Kid of the Game, presented by The Rothenberg Law Firm. Byrd’s father, LCPL John T Byrd II, lost his life serving as a marine in Iraq in 2004. Elijah Byrd is also paired with Josh Richardson in the 76ers “Walk In My Shoes” mentorship program. Byrd and Richardson will have a series of touchpoints throughout the year, during which Richardson will check-in and provide guidance.
Richardson and Mike Scott both have ties to the armed services as Richardson’s mother, Alice, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force, while Scott’s father, Michael, was in the Marines for more than two decades and served multiple tours overseas in the Middle East.
The game will include the “Toyota Salute of the Game” recognition, honoring Staff Sergeant Stephen Winther. Winther is a marine who received a bronze star and Purple Heart. At halftime, the 76ers will hold a special jersey presentation for veterans from each of the last six major U.S. conflicts. The veterans will be presented with customized 76ers jerseys.
Fans will also see 76ers coaches wearing commemorative “Stars & Stripes” lapel pins in honor of Military Appreciation Night. As part of the night’s tributes, 76ers ENT, featuring Franklin and Squad 76, will wear military-themed outfits. On the concourse, 76ers fans will have the opportunity to sign a 16-foot “Thank You For Your Service” banner located in the Broad Street Atrium. Fans will also see military vehicles parked outside The Center on game day.
The “Stars & Stripes” initiative continues on Thursday, Nov. 21 when the 76ers and Toyota begin the holiday season with a Season of Giving event in partnership with Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that strengthens bonds between Americans and military and first responder heroes through volunteer service projects, acts of gratitude and meaningful elements in communities nationwide. More than 200 volunteers, including 76ers players and coaches, members of the Toyota family, veterans and military will work together to package 1,000 comfort and care kits, 600 paracord survival bracelets, and 250 Battalion Buddies for service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and veterans at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia that serves the Delaware Valley.