Panthers Make World War II Vet Honorary Team Ambassador

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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) — Many folks entering old age move to Florida to retire.

But for Harvey Middleton, a World War II veteran, he came to work. After asking the Florida Panthers for a job, they finally gave him one — and a brand new family in the process.

The average age of retirees in the U.S. is 61. But Harvey is anything but average. He’s 91 years young and 11/12.

“I’m not 92,” he told CBS4’s Bianca Peters. “Don’t rush it!”

His birthday is May 5th.

“Cinco de Mayo,” asked Peters.

“A whole country celebrates my birthday,” he joked.

There’s no slowing down for this military vet who belongs to the “greatest generation.” He’s got love for the country — and life.

“The fact that I’m alive keeps me going,” he said. “And I’m just happy.”

A while back, Harvey was honored by the Panthers as part of their ‘Heroes Among Us’ initiative. The organization honored a military hero during each home game this season, giving the hero and their family free tickets to the game and a special recognition on Big Red, the arena’s scoreboard.

It was the first time Harvey stepped into the BB&T Center in Sunrise. But it was a place he immediately knew he wanted to call home.

“Well, I’m down here alone,” he explained. “I made a few friends. Nothing really close. But now, I have a family.”

His I-don’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude had him asking the Panthers for a job multiple times. His persistence recently paid off.

“He’s got a lot of things to bring to us,” said Panthers Chief of Staff Sean McCaffrey. “If I’m 91 and still kicking and have that much energy, and can be part of something special, I mean, that’s like what we all strive to do in our life.”

He’s now a proud Panther and Ambassador for the team. And on just the second day on the job, Harvey is making himself at home one handshake at a time, greeting guests and expressing his enthusiasm for the game on ice.

“It keeps me alive. Keeps my mind going. My body. I don’t want to be stagnant.”

And even though the season’s end is right around the corner, Harvey only feels one thing.

“Elation,” he said. “Because I love being with people.”

More from Bianca Peters
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