FORT HOOD — About 200 people piled onto four charter buses at Copeland Soldier Service Center early Saturday morning to depart for the 2012 postseason Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
The Killeen Armed Services YMCA signed up as one of the bowl’s official charity partners to send veterans, active-duty soldiers and their families to the game.
Travis Knight, associate executive director of the local YMCA chapter, worked with Fort Hood Family Housing to get the word out about the event.
“It’s just thanking them for their service,” Knight said. “These guys go through a lot. There’s a lot of stress put on the families, so anything organized like this that you can offer (for free) is just a nice thing.”
The all-day event, which also featured free food and an after-game concert, was a way to thank the men and women in uniform.
“It’s good to give back, especially when it’s for the veterans,” he said.
William Witherow, who comes from a military family, was excited to watch a bowl game live.
“It’s a bowl game. You don’t really get to go to too many bowl games,” Witherow said. “It’s a great opportunity to bring a lot of people together and really just share the experience with each other.”
Veteran Michael Wallace, head coach of the Temple Panthers minor league football team, was a chaperone during the event.
“Since we’ve known about this for a couple of weeks, we’ve been excited to help the community as best we can,” Wallace said.
If the YMCA didn’t help organize the buses to travel to the game, the veterans, Fort Hood soldiers and their families wouldn’t have been able to attend the game, Wallace said. “The turnout is wonderful.”