Cowboys Super Fans hold tailgate party at nursing home
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Super Fans of the Dallas Cowboys visited with residents of Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, bringing hot dogs and hamburgers and all the fixings as well as chips, cookies and sweet and unsweet tea for a tailgate party before the game Sunday afternoon.
The Cowboys lost 17-20 against the Washington Redskins but that didn’t prevent residents and their new friends from enjoying their lunch.
Nicole Vess, also known as the “Cowboys Diva”, is a member of the Pro-Football’s Ultimate Fan Association, an organization for very devoted fans of professional football in the United States and Europe. She and other members of the organization’s Dallas Cowboys chapter visited Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehab in July and hosted an ice cream social.
Vess said that they wanted to come back to the nursing facility several times a year and host get togethers for the residents, mentioning the possibility of returning around Valentine’s Day.
Sunday’s game was an away game against the Washington Redskins, and normally, they try to attend those, Vess said. Vess said she attended the previous three away games, which the Cowboys lost.
Vess shared that this tailgate was planned for the residents to provide something different for them.
“They’ve served our community already, so I think it’s time to give back a little bit,” Vess said. “Especially for the ones that don’t have family anymore or they live far away and they, you know, would hate for them to just be here alone, so I think hopefully we’ll brighten their day a bit and give them a little bit of excitement.”
When they have their tailgates at the AT&T Stadium, Vess said they like to host the opposing team’s fans to ensure they have a good time.
Henry Gamez, a fellow diehard Cowboys Super Fan and member of the Pro-Football’s Ultimate Fan Association helped cook the hotdogs and hamburgers.
One of the core things about being a member of the PFUFA is community service, Gamez said. As a group, the Cowboys Super Fans help out different charities and organizations and like to stick with a small number and be consistent, he added.
“This is one of them that we go back to,” Gamez said. “That’s why we love to come here. We’re welcomed with open arms, the seniors love us here and hey, it’s what it’s all about.”
Trae Cunningham, the area director of Marketing for Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehabilitation said that he loves when the group comes to visit the residents.
“This is their home,” Cunningham said of the facilities 78 residents. “They don’t get to go out and invite people to their house, so this is their way of having their family, their friends and everybody coming in and celebrating them. They get to be the host so to them it’s a big thing.”
Cunningham offered up his grills for the Super Fans to use to cook all the hot dogs and hamburgers. Cunningham said he likes to have cookouts at least once a month for residents.
“Anything to be a part and make them feel at home,” Cunningham said.
Henry Gamez and Brian Tauscher cooked the hot dogs and hamburgers while Renee and R.G. Arredondo brought the cookies.
Renee and R.G. live in Killeen and have known Vess for at least 10 years and were there to support Vess, they said.
Each had their own car decorated to show their dedication to the Dallas Cowboys. Residents, staff and visitors came out to see the cars and take pictures before the game started. Renee’s car, a 2006 Dodge Charger, has autographs from different players covering the dashboard and an $11,000 paint job featuring Dez Bryant on the hood, Troy Aikman on the trunk and Jimmy Johnson, Michael Irvin, Tom Landry and Emmitt Smith on the doors.
Sherry Frame, a resident at Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehab, got her picture taken with the Arredondos’ cars before the game started. Frame said that although she is not a Cowboys fan and instead roots for the Chicago Bears, she enjoyed the Super Fans coming out to spend time with the residents. She attended the ice cream social in the summer and said that she thought they were “really great people” to host that.