Friends of Francona program honors veteran Darron Lewis at Sunday’s game

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Last homestand we brought you the story of our first Friends of Francona honoree, Chris Essleburn, a lifelong Tribe fan and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In case you missed it, the Friends of Francona program looks to honor deserving Tribe fans with 10 free tickets to the Club Lounge (all food and soft drinks included in the price of the ticket) as well as $20 fun money on each ticket. The program was started by Indians Manager Terry Francona in 2013 with everything paid for in full by Tito and WTAM.

Army veteran and loyal Tribe fan Darron Lewis attended Sunday’s Indians game as the second, very deserving, honoree of the Friends of Francona program.

Lewis, who grew up and still lives in the Cleveland area, served two-and-a-half years as an infantryman for the United States Army before suffering a severe injury in Afghanistan, forcing him to retire.

On July 11, 2013, Lewis and his fellow service men and women were in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when an I.E.D. (roadside bomb) went off. The blast left Lewis with injuries including a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg and broken bones in his right leg from his pelvis to ankle. He was just a foot away from his brother at arms, who lost his life.

In recognition of his service and sacrifice, Lewis has been honored with multiple awards including an Afghanistan campaign medal with campaign star, two Army confederation medals, national defense service medal, global war on terrorism service medal, NATO medal, airborne wings and a Purple Heart among many others.

Lewis is currently a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers Wheelchair basketball team and participated in the All-Star Game in February. His ultimate goal is to make the 2016 Olympic team and represent the United States.

While taking pictures with Slider during the sixth inning, Lewis and his family were surprised with scoreboard recognition and a Terry Francona replica jersey.

“It’s awesome. Being a veteran we feel like sometimes people forget about us and what we’ve been through,” Lewis said. “I’m really appreciative for them (Friends of Francona program) to remember us like this.”

– TribeVibe contributor Angela Martin

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