NFL player Golden Tate and his fiancee, Elise Pollard, have so much love to give.
The Detroit Lions wide receiver, 28, and his future wife most recently helped 10-year Army veteran Nik Schieder propose to his girlfriend, Sheena Lader. Along with a hectic football schedule and planning their wedding, the engaged couple continues to honor deserving veterans through their Golden Future Foundation.
Here, The Knot shares exclusive details from the serendipitous way Golden and Elise connected with Nik, and the veteran’s epic on-field proposal, which took place during the Lions’ home game at Ford Field on Sunday, November 20.
After Golden proposed to Elise in September 2015, the president of Ritani jewelers contacted her to congratulate her on her engagement, offering to donate an engagement ring to a veteran for the foundation. The future bride took it upon herself to reach out to organizations to find a deserving recipient.
“It came about really organically,” Elise recalls to The Knot. The trick was finding a veteran who was ready to propose.
Thankfully, Eric Gestring and his fiancee, Darien–who got engaged in December 2015 with the help of the Golden Future Foundation–nominated their friend Nik, and the wheels were set into motion. Golden and Elise were so touched after reading the heartfelt nomination, that they decided to reach out to Nik and connect him with Ritani just a few days before the scheduled proposal date. The designer was able to create a custom ring in time, and had it delivered to Golden and Elise on Saturday–hours before Sunday’s proposal.
On game day, Eric and Darien accompanied Nik and his unsuspecting girlfriend to their first NFL game as a gift for Nik’s 33rd birthday. While picking up their tickets, Eric announced that Nik would be recognized for his service during the game, and a Lions representative came to escort Elise, Nik, and Sheena to the field during the first quarter. It was on that very field that CBS cameras caught the emotional proposal on-camera.
“Sheena was utterly shocked,” Elise tells The Knot. “Her hands flew up to her mouth; they both had smiles you could see from a mile away. It was so cute. She jumped into his arms and he lifted her off the ground for a few minutes. [They] just hugged and [were] so overjoyed. I’m so thankful for all of the moving parts that made this happen. Such a humble, deserving couple.”
Nik joined the United States Army in 2002. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq before being awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat, and was honorably discharged from the Army in 2012. The veteran started dating Sheena in June 2011, prior to his last deployment to Iraq. He is currently applying to law schools.
Nik’s friend and fellow veteran Eric Gestring wrote in his nomination: “Nik [is] a combat veteran that has surpassed all odds chasing his dreams and on the path to becoming a lawyer. This decorated Army pathfinder and sniper is the greatest friend I have! He has helped me and many other veterans with PTSD and many other issues. He was 100% with me when I was struggling with my father fighting cancer and with my financial hardship. This is a man who would give the shirt off his back to help his brother veterans… I think it’s time to honor this incredible patriot and warrior!”
Golden tells The Knot that he helps veterans not for the publicity or for other self-serving reasons. For the football star, his purpose is simply to “share God’s love.” He adds, “The most satisfying thing [is] to see how they react and how thankful they are for these blessings that we’re able to give out.”
On Monday, November 28, Golden and Elise will host the second annual Stars and Strikes event at the Lucky Strike in Novi, Michigan. Along with this celebratory night to honor the military, the couple is busy bringing awareness to suicide prevention through their foundation. To date, they have also orchestrated three marriage proposals for veterans.
“We have family who have served–both my grandfather and Elise’s grandfather served,” Golden concludes to The Knot. “We want to educate people as much as we can, and lift our men and women up as much as we can and help them.”