The Wounded Warrior Project, Inc. hosted an All-Star Softball game Saturday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium, where the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team played against several local celebrities that included the Mayor of Junction City Mike Ryan and former Chiefs player Will Shields, among many others. The First Infantry Division Band was also present to support the former soldiers on the field through their music.
“We never leave anybody behind,” Cmdr. Jeffrey Price of the First Infantry Division Band said. “We are always here to support each other. The team that they had when they were in the military is still here supporting them after the military.”
The event is one that carries special meaning for those involved in the military, as well as many other community members inspired by the organization. For example, Custom Apparel Gear, Inc. owner, Nate Bry, produces gear for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“My dad was a military veteran and I just like supporting the people who support us and keep us free,” Bry said.
In fact, K-State State Football Motivational Coach and paralympian, Kevin Saunders, spoke after the first game. Saunders spoke of his own experiences and encouraged others to participate with the Wounded Warrior Project as well.
“Keep fighting the war for freedom and help these guys to live a normal life,” Saunders said during his speech.
As one final note, Saunders donated $100 to the Wounded Warriors Project to show support. As this was a charitable event, those who desired to give back had that opportunity. However, the event also serves to raise awareness of the Wounded Warrior Project and its mission to enlist public aid, provide programs and services to meet needs of injured service members.
“I think it just helps with promoting their message of life without limbs is limitless and just shows that it doesn’t matter what happens in your life, the tragedy in your life, you can overcome it, you can get through it and persevere,” Bry said.
In addition to serving alongside some of the men on the team, one officer even worked with Wounded Warrior men before joining the military. Spc. Tucker Day is now part of the First Infantry Division Band as a saxophone player.
“It means a lot to me,” Day said. “I was a music therapist before I came into the military, so I worked with a lot of veterans and a lot of them were from the Wounded Warrior Project. This means a lot to me because they were actually the ones that got me into the military, so being able to serve them in this way, seeing them and supporting them out here at the baseball game is a huge deal for me and I hope that I can continue to do stuff like this for them. That’s part of the reason why I joined the army – so I could keep using those talents for them.”
This event also gave supporters the chance to have fun alongside the wounded warriors that make up their community. It allows an opportunity for the entire community to participate.
“I’m really happy with it,” Day said. “Just seeing everybody laughing and cheering for soldiers, for the people who joined the First Infantry Division, and getting out there and hitting the ball and just having a good time talking to the players. Some people are getting a little heckling in and it’s like a real baseball game, so it’s a lot of fun.”
This event also serves to highlight the wounded warriors and their experiences. The warriors on the team have had to adjust to life without a limb and are still participating in a hobby they enjoy.
“It’s important for the mere fact of what these players went through on the battlefield and what they’ve overcome and the inspiration they are bringing to the field today and to the general public,” Bry said.