Years later, veteran thanks J.J. Watt for generous donation

Veteran and JJ Watt.jpeg
Posted at 11:12 AM, Feb 14, 2023

GLENDALE, AZ — Walking to his seat at the Super Bowl is what you might call a "pinch me" moment.

”It’s a chance of a lifetime; never in my wildest dreams would I think I’d be at the Super Bowl,” said Richard Hart.

Hart has had a few of those moments recently. Through the nonprofit Vet Tix, an organization that gives veterans a chance to go to various events, he scored two seats at State Farm Stadium for Sunday’s big game.

The flyover, the back-and-forth game and the halftime show can play as a reminder of the sacrifices made through service that, in part, allow events like the Super Bowl to happen.

Another "pinch me" moment for Hart came at the NFL Experience.

He was surprised to share a space with former Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt.

”I got to thank him personally,” said Hart.

Hart’s granddaughter, 14-year-old Kimberly Vaughan, was one of the 10 people killed in the Santa Fe High School shooting in the spring of 2018.

Hart remembers Kimberly as an astute Girl Scout who loved to read, enjoyed the company of cats, and was always wearing a smile.

”It hurts. The pain gets less... it’ll never go away,” said Hart.

Not long after the shooting, Watt donated $10,000 to each surviving family member for arrangement expenses.

“I wanted to thank him in person for what he did because that brought comfort. We didn’t have to worry about that extra expense at that time,” said Hart.

”Any time we can all use our platform and help with the greater good, that’s really what is special for our opportunity,” said Watt.

Last year, the Kimberly Vaughn Firearm Safe Storage Act was passed into law. The federal regulation establishes a framework for the storage of firearms and ammo.

This article was written by Jordan Bontke for KNXV.