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Soldiers Enjoy Standing Ovation At Mavs Game

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - More than 125 military men and women – most of them wounded serving the country – were honored guests at the Dallas Maverick’s basketball game Saturday night.

It was a chance to take a break from focusing on healing, and relax and have fun.

“We’re injured. Sometimes we think everyone forgot about us. But this feels good, to come back to this,” said Jamel Abdulaziz, U.S. Army.

This is the ninth year of the “Seats for Soldiers” initiative.

It started with a couple of season ticket holders, who wanted to give up their premium seats for injured servicemen to enjoy a Mavs game.

Years later, more than 100 ticket holders donate their seats, allowing even more of these injured heroes the chance to sit up close and take in an NBA game.

It’s grown beyond the game as well: American Airlines flew the group up from Brook Army Medical Center to DFW where they were greeted by the Mavs Maniacs and cheering volunteers.

They then headed to dinner at Abacus, one of Dallas’ top rated restaurants.

Then they moved on to American Airlines Center, where the soldiers received a standing ovation upon entering the arena.

“I’m not originally from Texas, so I don’t get to see games like this. It’s really awesome to be here and see the support texas has been giving to soldiers,” said U.S. Army SPC Blake Hildenbrand.

His friend, Andrea Ortegon agreed.

Ortegon was injured in Afghanistan. The Austin native grew up with a love for basketball and the Mavericks, which makes this occasion even more enjoyable.

“This brings our anxiety level down. We have less things on our mind by getting away and having a good time, because sometimes Army life is more stressful than it should be,” SPC Ortegon said.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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