By Gina Martinez
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team squared off against a local team of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents Saturday in Bellerose.
The softball game, won by the Wounded Warriors 15-8, was sponsored by Northwell Health and played at Preller Fields on Hillside Avenue
The Wounded Warrior team is made up of former military veterans and service members who were injured in the line of duty and wear prosthetics of some sort. The team’s mission is to raise awareness through exhibitions and celebrity softball games of the sacrifices and resilience of the military and to highlight its ability to rise above any challenge. The team’s motto is “No quitting, no limits, no excuses.”
Among the Warrior players was Lance Corporal (Retired) Jose Wege, who enlisted in the U.S. Marines in 2008 and served a tour in Afghanistan in 2009. Six months into his deployment, his light-armored vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, resulting in the loss of a leg. Wege was awarded a Purple Heart for his sacrifice as well as the Navy Achievement Medal.
The game was open to the public, with donations welcomed. All the funds raised by the team will go to KidsCamp, a week-long summer sports camp for 20 amputee children and parents. Members of the Wounded Warriors work with the campers in an effort to promote self-confidence and the sense that everyone is “normal.”
According to Juan Serrano, head of Military and Veteran Liaison Services for the game’s sponsor, Northwell Health, the team faced off against able-bodied ATF officers to show people they are capable. He said the point is to change what people think when they hear the word “amputee.”
“The word amputee is pretty ugly, but once you see these guys moving, it’s amazing,” Serrano said.
The athletes not only bring awareness, but educate the community on the merits of service, he said.
“We are fortunate as a nation to have an all-volunteer force, and as a community we have to come together to find innovative solutions to improve the quality of life of survivors because they deserve it,” Serrano said. “They gave their all, so it’s imperative we do that. As the largest provider of health care for veterans, it’s our responsibility to support and to ensure that we create meaningful opportunities so that they can assimilate seamlessly.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart