The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST), comprised of veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs during post-9/11 military service, will play three games from May 6 - 8. The first game, sponsored by George Mason Athletics and the Diamond Dream Foundation, against FBI agents will be held at the George Mason University Softball Stadium on Friday, May 6th at 7:00 pm. The second game against the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Clinical Personnel will be held Saturday, May 7th at 1:00 pm, at WRAMC Forest Glen Annex in Silver Spring, Md. The third game will be against the U.S. Naval Academy Varsity Sailing Team and take place on Sunday, May 8th at 12:00 pm at the Naval Support Activity Annapolis Softball Field in Annapolis, Md.
WWAST was established to raise awareness of the sacrifices and resilience of U.S. soldiers and highlight their ability to rise above any challenge. The team is the brainchild of Fairfax High School graduate David Van Sleet (’73) who is currently the Department of Veterans Affairs southwest prosthetics manager. Van Sleet combined his life-long love of softball with his expertise in prosthetics to establish this unique way to honor the commitment of our military.
With the help of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Wounded Warrior Project Alumni Database, 13 of the most active, athletic and competitive amputee soldiers and veterans with baseball or softball experience were selected for the team. Three of the players are still in the service, waiting for their medical discharge, and the rest have been discharged from the service and are now veterans. They range in age from 20 to 39. Two are arm amputees, three above-knee amputees, six below-knee amputees, one bilateral below-knee amputee, and one symes (foot) amputee.
The team’s spring training camp and debut game was held in March at the University of Arizona. The camp was made possible through a Congressional Grant obtained by the U of A, which covered the players’ airfares, hotel and meals. Louisville Slugger is the official equipment sponsor, providing all of the composite softball bats, softball gloves, batting gloves, and player bat and travel bags. Under Armour, through the Wounded Warrior Project, is the apparel sponsor.
Local veterans and local and national service organizations will provide housing for the team members and escort them through the Washington area during their stay.
While the team continues to look for sponsors, future plans include exhibition games throughout the country to further increase awareness of the recovery of service-disabled amputee veterans. The team has been contacted by several groups and has committed to play against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the New York City Police and Fire Departments in September as the nation recognizes the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. -- Isaiah 40:31