CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Retired Army Sergeant Alex Somerson spent two tours in Iraq and upon returning home, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He has since been heavily involved with the Wounded Warrior Project helping mentor others who are transitioning back to civilian life and even suicide prevention. Now Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has taken notice and decided to return the favor of giving back.
"I had people that I worked with following Christian McCaffrey on his twitter and when it kinda came out - I think a minute later, two minutes after it came out I had people looking at me and texting me and sending me emails “You’re going to the Super Bowl!?” Somerson said.
That's how former military Sergeant Somerson found out he was going to Super Bowl 53.
“It was a whirlwind, but like I said very unexpected. A complete honor, it really is.”
So just how did McCaffrey select Somerson? Well he's not sure, but he hopes it's for a number of reasons.
“I think it might’ve been a number of reasons. One really heavily-involved trying to give back and pay it forward to other veterans, and then I think military family. My wife Shawna was also a military veteran. Our two boys were both born on Fort Campbell during deployments. I think it’s just kind of, it’s not one thing it’s the whole family,” Somerson said.
Going to the Super Bowl is more than just about watching the biggest game of the year for the Somersons, it's about getting to experience one of the freedoms he and so many others have fought for.
“It’s a tremendous honor because you know you fight for those freedoms and everybody is a sports fan. When you’re deployed you’re trying your best to get to a TV to see a game or to see your favorite team, and then when you get home to know that you have the same admiration from the players and they’re giving back to the same thing it puts it all together. It’s a reason why you serve and sacrifice so much and seeing it from them - it means a tremendous amount to a lot of guys, a lot of families, a lot of soldiers,” Somerson said.