JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When the Jaguars take on Buffalo for the team's first home playoff game in nearly two decades, Lwin Myint will be cheering them on from the crowd.
“I'm excited,” Myint told First Coast News, grinning from ear to ear.
Myint's journey to Jacksonville began thousands of miles away in Southeast Asia. Political unrest in his native Burma made it unsafe for his family, so they fled first to Malaysia, then to the United States.
“Of course we don't want to leave our own motherland,” he said. “But [at the time it was] still unstable and it's getting worse.”
Myint was a dentist back in Burma, but he's had to re-do much of his training here in the United States to work his way up to the position he once held. Currently, he's a dental hygienist.
“I know that I have to sacrifice certain things to become somebody here,” Myint said.
That's why the gesture from Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to donate 1,000 tickets to Sunday's playoff game, meant so much.
“We want to be a part of the community, so doing the right thing and really having a gesture, where people who have much bigger issues than a football game, I think is very important,” Khan told First Coast News. “Not only for them but really the community, that we should be caring about it.”
“You cannot imagine what this means for our families,” Mary Strickland, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, said. Lutheran Social Services helps refugees, like Myint, resettle and build lives on the First Coast. The organization partnered with the Jaguars Foundation to distribute 500 tickets to refugees.
“By offering these tickets to refugees, you're making them feel at home in Jacksonville,” Strickland said.
The other 500 donated tickets will go to people from Puerto Rico displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Myint admittedly didn't know much about football when he moved to the United States, but his American friends taught him.
While he's excited to see the action in person, he's most excited to be embraced as part of a community uniting for a common purpose.
“The game I'm going to watch, it belongs to the city I live,” Myint said. “Jacksonville Jaguars. So we have to support.”