The line stretched as far as they could see, wrapping around a corner and down a seemingly endless hallway.
There were adults and kids alike – each equipped with a football, a flag or something else bearing an arrowhead – all gathered here in the heart of Fort Leavenworth to meet Kansas City Chiefs’ legend Christian Okoye and current tailbacks J.D. Moore and Aaron Ripkowski.
This was the conclusion of yet another visit to the installation – the oldest-active Army base west of the Mississippi River – and as the troops and their families each waited a turn, the contingent of running backs made time for all of them.
“It means the world to all of us here on the installation to have the players here,” said Col. Marne Sutten, who is stationed on the base. “We have a unique relationship with the Chiefs, and for them to take time out of their busy schedules to come out here and visit with the young soldiers is amazing. It’s good for the soldiers, it’s good for the community and it’s good for the relationship with Kansas City.”
The visit - which took place last week - included a brief tour of the base and a working dog demonstration, where the group had a chance to witness how military police dogs are trained for real-life situations.
There were cell phone videos and questions abound.
“This is an opportunity for us to teach about the military,” Sutten explained. “The fact that they’re interested in what we do is such a morale-booster for our soldiers. They take pride in this, and to have people that they consider to be their heroes take an interest in it, it’s just amazing.”
And as the event wrapped up with the autograph session, it was revealed that the players had come prepared with a surprise. The Chiefs, in partnership with Park University, were providing 50 tickets to Draft Fest – which took place this past weekend - for soldiers on-base.
It was an exciting way to end a fun afternoon, as Okoye, Moore and Ripkowski thanked the troops and their families for everything that they do.
“I’ve been doing some work for the military for a long time – I saw the kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are the true heroes,” Okoye said. “They’re the ones that actually sacrifice their health and lives. As football players, we play a game. We play for fun and for a career, so appreciating the things that they do is what we’re here for.”
Some current and former Chiefs Running Backs visit and sign autographs with soldiers and families at Ft. Leavenworth.