Wounded Warriors softball team bring game, message to areaWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Traveling across America to share the sacrifices of our military, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) will make its first-ever visit to Northwest Ohio for a series of games and events on May 31 at Ned Skeldon Stadium in Maumee.
The WWAST is comprised of 25 veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs post-9/11 while serving their country. Their amputations vary — arm, above knee, below knee, foot — but their mission is the same: use softball to show that anyone can rise above challenges.
“It’s what we use to get the message out there, and obviously it’s an amazing thing to see a guy lose both of his legs and hit a 350-foot home run,” said Saul Bosquez of Adrian, Michigan, the only team member from this area. “What they put into the point they’re at takes a lot of effort and dedication. We’re well-received wherever we go.”
Some of the players are still in the service, others have moved on to new careers and others are in college, such as Bosquez, who lost his left leg just below the knee on Aug. 1, 2007. Four years after his accident this nationally touring team was formed, and it has been a whirlwind ride for him since.
“It has been amazing. I don’t think a lot of people realized how big the team could become,” Bosquez said. “I think we’re booked right now until the end of 2015. We’re in pretty high demand. Right now it’s been quite the ride.”
As if traveling the country wasn’t enough, Bosquez has been fortunate to play in major league stadiums, on national television, all the while meeting numerous sports celebrities, including Johnny Damon, George Brett, Bo Jackson, Rickey Henderson, LaVar Arrington, and even stars from “Duck Dynasty.”
Getting the team to visit was the two-year work of the Sylvania Senior Softball Association, headed by Jay and Vicki Schramm. They initially thought the event might take place at Sylvania’s Pacesetter Park, but quickly realized this team draws a crowd, as they’re expecting 5,000 to attend in Maumee.
“We thought it would be a nice event to do for the community, to pay homage to the vets for all they do for us,” Schramm said. “I heard about them, and thought it would be nice to get them to come here, and do a parade, and it snowballed from that point on.”
The event will feature the WWAST playing in three games against the Sylvania Senior Softball All-Stars, local and guest celebrities, and Detroit Tigers alumni. A parade will precede the event, with local bands performing music in-between games, as well as a power hitting display. The weekend will also showcase involvement with local law enforcement agencies, medical personnel and a volunteer prosthetic group. BCSN plans to televise the event.
When the team initially began, spectators were a bit skeptical about the level of play.
“When we first started, (the reaction) was, ‘Oh, that’s nice, they can play,’” Bosquez said. “But then people watched us play and realized, ‘They’re actually good.’”
“I watched them on YouTube, and I was hooked,” Schramm said. “We started this in 2011, and it took two years to get them here because they’re in such hot demand.”
Events like this give the area a chance to shine through community involvement, and Schramm noted that several local businesses have been key to helping the cause.
“A lot of restaurants are donating food. Outback is doing a meal for them on Friday night,” Schramm said. “Century Equipment is donating golf carts to move vets around the field, and Hoover Wells repainted a vehicle for us.”
ProMedica, The Andersons, Meredith Party Rentals and several VFW Posts are among others offering assistance.
Admission is free, but the group is asking for goodwill donations at the gate. Funds will be used to help defray team travel costs, with excess being donated to the WWAST’s kids camp, which gives children with amputations a chance to learn the game.
Inspiration will be in abundance, yet the players aren’t the only ones offering it. Bosquez said he once received an email from the mother of an 8-year-old with an amputation from birth, who watched the shorts-wearing, prosthetic-exposed Warriors in action.
“The boy was embarrassed and ashamed to wear shorts,” Bosquez said. “But after he saw us, she said she can’t get him into pants anymore. That story parlayed into us starting the kids amputee camp.”
To donate, sponsor, offer auction items, or for general event information, call (419) 382-6602 or visit sylvaniaseniorsoftball.com/woundedwarriors.html.
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