Local non-profit Pizzas 4 Patriots sent 1,000 pizzas to troops overseas for Super Bowl XLVIII, so that deployed soldiers could have a little taste of home.
Retired Msgt. Mark Evans USAF joined Good Day Chicago to tell FOX 32's Corey McPherrin why his organization organizes efforts like these. He said when he and his son sat down to share a slice all those years ago, they realized how great it would be to enjoy some deep dish - or thin crust, depending on where your heart lies - while you're so far away from friends and family.
Evans said the thank you letters, photos and shout-outs on social media came pouring in during and after Super Bowl Sunday.
Pizzas 4 Patriots received a letter from LTC Mike McGregor that said the words "thank you" seemed inadequate to describe the heartfelt gratitude he and his buddies felt toward the team who managed to get brick oven pies all the way to Kandahar for them to enjoy. McGregor said the troops' initial reactions to having a "genuine slice of America" were beaming smiles all around and a great big "WOW."
"For just a few hours you allowed us to forget we were in a combat zone and just enjoy ourselves," McGregor wrote.
One photo submitted to the Pizzas 4 Patriots Facebook page from a solider stationed in The Middle East gained nearly 1,000 likes. Zachary Ziolko's caption read, "Thank you very much, I'm enjoying some pizza from you guys right now in Afghanistan!"
Ziolko even took the time to leave a comment on FOX 32's Facebook page:
"I cannot believe how much notice this picture I sent in has gotten. I feel like a regular celebrity. Thanks Pizzas4Patriots and thank you to everyone that contributed and continues to support the fighting men and women of the United States of America. Mom raised me to always say thank you, I never thought it would lead to so much publicity. Hah."
Governor Quinn helped Pizzas 4 Patriots prepare their shipment this year, as he has done in years past. He said he's proud to be part of such an effort.
Pizzas 4 Patriots also visited veterans hospitals on the day of the big game, to spend some quality pizza-time with the vets and remind them of how grateful we are for their commitment to service.
To find out how you can help Evans and his team every day of the year, visit the Pizzas 4 Patriots official website.