The Heroes Eat Steak program awards its first steak dinner to its first hero

Michael Jordan’s Steak House awarded its first Heroes Eat Steak dinner this month to local hero Jeremy Campbell, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006.

With the Heroes Eat Steak program, the restaurant seeks out and rewards real Chicago heroes, every month, by treating them to the king of meals—steak—taken to the Michael Jordan level.

It’s the Michael Jordan’s Steak House way of saying “thank you” to those who serve our community and our country.

Along with his guest, hero Jeremy Campbell was honored with a fixed-menu dinner this month at Michael Jordan’s Steak House. The restaurant identified Campbell with the help of Veterans Tickets (VetTix.org), an organization that exists to “give back and say thank you for sacrificing,” by giving veterans access to events, shows, and other experiences.

Campbell was a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps, a Machinegunner with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Weapons Company. Deployed to Iraq in fall of 2005, he returned home in spring of 2006.

That summer, he explained, “I was in a bad Humvee rollover accident, where it flipped on top of me. I was thrown from the Humvee and fractured my pelvis, and I was hospitalized for a long time. It almost killed me, and it took me a while to get back on my feet after that.”

The story of Campbell’s service to his country began ten years ago. “I enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2004,” the Chicago-area native recalled recently. “I joined the infantry, did my basic training out in San Diego, and I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, California. I was a machine gunner, the gunner on top of the Humvees.”

After his 2005-2006 tour of duty in Iraq, Campbell said, he was injured when he least expected it—back at his base in California. “It was a training accident,” he explained. “It was a week-long training event at Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps base. I had just gotten back from my deployment overseas and things were kind of settling down a bit. We were just doing a work-up for our next deployment.

“We were going downhill—the vehicles are very top-heavy—and we started to fishtail. I got thrown from the vehicle, and it flipped. I got clipped between the ground and the vehicle, and fractured my pelvis. I almost bled out on the spot. They had to airlift me to a hospital.”

It was touch-and-go. “I’m very blessed to even be alive right now,” Campbell said. “I had over 20 different operations, and I was in an acute care hospital for three months, transferred to a rehab hospital for another six months, and then spent another six months after that at the Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. It was not the best part of my life, for sure.”

But the story has a happy ending. “I’m not going through therapy any more,” Campbell was glad to report. “I’m working out on my own, maintaining my strength, motion, and dealing with the stiffness and soreness on a daily basis.”

And he’s about to launch a new career: “I’m going to graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Northwestern University next month.”

His accident, and his long treatment and recovery, became the inspiration for Campbell’s career choice. As he recovered, the Marine Corps veteran needed the help of many health professionals—including physical therapists. One day, it occurred to him that maybe he was cut out to be a physical therapist himself.

“I was still young when I got hurt, 20 years old,” Campbell remembered. “And, maybe a year and a half out from having all that happen, it kind of clicked that this was something I could see myself doing, something that I wanted to pursue.

“It was kind of like a light bulb went off in my head,” he went on. “I was going through the University of Illinois with my major undeclared. I was always interested in sports—maybe athletic training, maybe strength and conditioning—so the classes I took all leaned towards me doing physical therapy. And then I just kind of realized that’s what I wanted to do, and I just went for it with all guns blazing.”

Campbell got his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois in 2011, and now, he said, “I’m set to graduate from Northwestern University with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree next month.”

Campbell said it was a welcome surprise to have his service and his sacrifices recognized by the Heroes Eat Steak program. “I’ve been meaning to go to Michael Jordan’s Steak House for a really long time,” he said. “I’m extremely excited, and especially under these circumstances even more thrilled. I’ve been a huge Bulls fan my entire life, and I’m a big steak guy. I love eating steak. I’m definitely a carnivore.” Campbell said that at the restaurant, he “really enjoyed the Double Smoked Bacon, and the Delmonico steak was magnificent.”

When he’s not studying or eating steak, Campbell spends some of his time as a volunteer peer mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project. “Since Sept. 11, 2001 they’ve been helping out injured guys who have been coming back to the states from overseas,” Campbell explained. “They’ve been providing a great service with programs like return-to-work, mental health, the physical health and wellness programs.”

The future looks bright for Campbell at the moment. “It’s going great,” he said. “I’m set to graduate April 19, take my state licensure board exam in July, so it’s a good time right now.”

Michael Jordan’s Steak House was proud to offer “the king of meals” as a small gesture of thanks to Jeremy Campbell, for his service and the sacrifices he has made.

We invite you to share your personal message with him as well. A message of thanks, or congratulations, or any sentiment you may feel. 

Simply share your thoughts with us, and we’ll pass them along to Jeremy—and to the other heroes we will be honoring later this year. Just make a comment below, go to the hashtag #HeroesEatSteak—or to the Michael Jordan’s Steak House page on Facebook or Twitter.

Help us see to it that, “Heroes Eat Steak.”

#HeroesEatSteak