On what would've been Pat Tillman's 47th birthday, Nicole Bidwill, with 10 players by her side, shared a heartfelt message to all of the Gold Star families in attendance at Hunkapi Horse Farm on Monday afternoon.
"We want you to know that your loved ones are all Pat Tillman to us," Bidwill said.
The Cardinals and SeatGeek hosted 30 military survivors from T.A.P.S. for an Equine Therapy event as part of Salute to Service week in the NFL. They were families that are grieving the death of a military or veteran loved one.
While roaming the farm with the players, families had pins with the image of their loved ones attached to their shirts. They were also sharing stories with the athletes.
Since joining the Cardinals, rookie linebacker BJ Ojulari has taken part in various community service events. This one was especially profound.
"Everyone's explaining who they lost, and it makes you feel for them and it's so great to be out there and spend some time with and share these moments," Ojulari said. "It's a family environment. Just to know that we're in their corner and that we'll do anything to support them and encourage them in whatever they're going through."
Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter added that the families will be on the sidelines of the Cardinals' game against the Falcons on Sunday.
Ledbetter was one of the Cardinals that spent a lot of time in the arena, especially with Bidwill's 11-year-old horse, Sugar. Bidwill's other horse, Gunther, was on the other side of the farm kicking an inflatable football and playing his own game of flag football by pulling flags off participants' waists.
Even though it was the lone day of the week players are off, they wanted to be in attendance and provide some cheers to the families.
"We appreciate the sacrifices that they've made for their country and that their counterparts have made for this country," Ledbetter said. "Everything that they've been through, we wanted to be here to have a good time and kind of forget about those things and be around these beautiful creatures, very majestic."
Some players were truly embracing the southern feel out in the desert. Linebackers Zaven Collins and Dennis Gardeck seemed right at home on the farm, while running back Emari Demercado, wide receiver Hollywood Brown, and cornerback Antonio Hamilton, just to name a few, brought their families along for the experience.
For Bidwill, this is what the Cardinals are all about.
"Our players are the most amazing people ever," Bidwill said. "It means so much to me and my entire family and the entire organization. They're leading by example and they're such an inspiration in the way that they give back."
The T.A.P.S. families were able to get autographs from the players, snap pictures together, and were provided with other gifts on top of the upcoming experience they'll have this Sunday. The Cardinals family got a bit bigger on Monday evening.
"They have a support system and they're never alone," Ledbetter said. "Not only with the team, but also with the players. It's like one big happy family here in Arizona and I'm glad to be a part of it."
The Arizona Cardinals hosted a group from TAPS at Hunkapi Farms for a night of equine therapy, presented by SeatGeek