Sept. 3, 2012
As you settle into your seat at Robertson Stadium on this beautiful September Saturday, be sure to look around and take everything in: the roar of the crowd, the smell of food grilling, the Cougars and the Bobcats going squaring off on the gridiron. Take a second to appreciate the finer things in life, and remember what it is that makes these days so special.
At this time, there are nearly 1.5 million United States soldiers enlisted in active duty, and more than 300,000 of those are stationed overseas. Many of those troops put their lives on the line every day to protect our freedoms.
For one member of your Houston Football team these numbers hit close to home. Junior defensive lineman Zeke Riser comes from a family filled with a rich history of veterans.
“My father served 23 years in the Army,” Riser said. “I also have an uncle, two cousins, a brother and brother-in-law who are currently serving in the Marines. Those go along with my grandparents and many other members of my extended family.”
If anybody understands how much it means to have those men and women fighting overseas; it is Zeke Riser. In fact, Riser would be the first person to tell you that if he hadn’t been blessed with athletic ability, his career path might have been a little different.
“I guess you can say I come from a military family,” said Zeke “So I have a great perspective of what those men and women do, along with what their families have to endure. If not for football, there is not a doubt in my mind I would currently be serving my country with them.”
However, Riser’s ability to play football, does not keep him from being able to support the troops here on the home front. This past summer, Riser, along with members of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, organized a collection of goods to send to troops stationed overseas.
“The idea came to me when my brother-in-law was deployed to Afghanistan about six months ago,” Riser recalls. “This was his third deployment and I decided that I wanted to do something to help out.”
Helping out was exactly what Riser accomplished. The committee assigned an item to each individual sports team and left it up to them to spread the word for what they needed. The response they received was incredible. In all, the committee was able to raise ten boxes of supplies to send to his brother-in-law and the United States Marine Corps Tiltrotor Squadron 365.
“The amount of goods brought in was well above what we anticipated,” said Riser. “It was great. Our military does so much for us on a daily basis, so it was awesome to see the appreciation and gratitude from all of UH athletics.”
The gesture was not lost on the soldiers either.
“Receiving care packages from back home helped keep us focused on our day-to-day tasks,” said Riser’s brother-in-law and GySgt Joshua Miller. “It’s appreciated more than you could ever know.”
So as warm ups come to an end, and you see number 90 all over the field making plays, remember what the celebration of today is all about. Heroes Day is a day that all of us as a country should take time to celebrate. It is a day for us to congratulate the veterans who have returned home from duty, to pray for the soldiers still fighting overseas and to remember each and every brave individual who has lost their life fighting to protect the freedoms that we as a society hold dear to us.
Feature story taken from the first issue of the Houston Football Game Program (Sept. 1, 2012 vs. Texas State).