By Diana Saenger
San Diego has many companies and organizations ready to support the armed forces and their families in our county. Viejas Casino & Resort is one of those leaders. Their innovative team managers work non-stop in creating profitable and inventive ways to entertain, bring added value to the Viejas tribe and support the community.
Viejas Casino General Manager, Chris Kelley, always has his thinking cap on in how to commemorate each year of the Casino’s anniversary. Last year and this year, the 22nd, were both in collaboration with the Guinness World Records Corporation.
Last year Viejas earned the Guinness World Record for Biggest Blackjack Table. This year Viejas broke three Guinness World Records; for the Largest Deck of Cards Ever Played, The Most Bottles of Wine Opened Simultaneously, and The Most High Fives.
The wine was then sold and Viejas Chairman Anthony Pico presented a check for $5,000 to Operation Homefront – California’s Executive Director Jack Chirrick. Half of the sales of the 700 bottles of wine were also donated to Operation Homefront.
“We are so proud of how far we have come and how much we can give back to the community,” Chairman Pico said.
Murphy-Goode Winery donated the wine and is a proud sponsor of Operation Homefront. “My family has a long military background dating back to World War I, where my great grandfather Bill Ready served in the Army. They were proud to serve our great country and would all be excited about helping our returning soldiers that gave so much for us,” remarked David Ready Jr., Winemaker, on the Murphy-Goode Winery website.
Bradford Walton, Senior VP of Consumer Lifestyle Marketing, Murphy Goode’s liaison for the event, said “I’m a big supporter of Operation Homefront and proud of those who serve our country.”
This was only one of many examples of Viejas’s generosity in helping the community. Almost every week they help support local events that benefit organizations such as: Ronald McDonald’s House, Project Wildlife, Boys & Girls Club, Make-A-Wish, Hospital Foundations, USO, Salvation Army, and many more.
Robert Scheid, Vice President-Community and Public Relations of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, confirmed the Viejas Tribal members have a strong ethic and desire to help others. With the latest addition of their $36 million AAA 4-Diamond rated Hotel, the first luxury hotel in eastern San Diego County, it created 400 more jobs for San Diegans,
“Since the Viejas Casino opened its doors, it’s been setting milestones, breaking records and become a leader in this industry to see how things are done and to be successful,” Scheid said.
Viejas recently held a Military Appreciation Day at Viejas Outlets where families enjoyed a free meal and entertainment. Chairman Pico was presented a Challenge Coin by Sergeant First Class Peter A. Romero there with the Army Strong booth.
Accompanying Operation Homefront’s’ Executive Director Jack Chirrick to the Guinness World Record event was by U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Mike Rios, who suffered severe injuries from a rocket propelled grenade during his tour in Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq.
Still on active duty, Rios currently resides in an Operation Homefront unit in Oceanside while he undergoes therapy, and hopes to make a career in counseling others. In his thank-you speech to Viejas for their efforts, he explained how much the donations would help him and others to regain their lives.
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. Part of their Honor Patriotism and Service to Country value sates: We believe those who wear our country’s uniform do so with a sense of duty, knowing they support the causes of freedom. We serve by serving them and their families.
In 2012, they met 151,150 needs for military families, including active duty, Guard and Reserve members from all branches of service. Since its inception, Operation Homefront has provided more than $128 million of funding to programs to benefit military families. It has served more than 4,200 wounded warriors and their families.
Chirrick said about the latest contribution from Viejas, “What Viejas has done is incredible. The resources we provide each unit requires about $25,000 a year. This backing is tremendous and will really benefit so many.”
For more information about Operation Homefront visit www.operationhomefront.net/