Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team™ Hosts First-ever
Kids Camp for Children with Amputations, Missing Limbs
LOUISVILLE, KY – (June 6, 2013) - Before deploying to Afghanistan, former U.S. Marine Josh Wege played softball six nights a week. But when a roadside bomb took both of his legs in 2009, he wondered if he'd ever walk, let alone play softball again. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team™ recruited Wege and changed his life. This June, the team will do the same for children.
Next week, 20 children from across the U.S. with amputations or missing limbs will attend the first-ever Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team™ Kids Camp in Orlando, Fla. The camp, scheduled for June 10–15, will teach softball fans ages 8–12 how to play the game they love, despite their physical
"Since we started touring in 2011, we've been inviting young, local amputees to serve as batboys and batgirls at our games,” said WWAST Coach David Van Sleet. “You wouldn't believe the positive impact a single game can make on them. To have a full five days to work with and inspire these kids – kids who are at such an impressionable age – is one of the most amazing opportunities we could have asked for."
The five-day camp will consist of daily clinics during which WWAST players and coaches will teach the kids all aspects of softball, from running and catching, to team-play and sportsmanship. While the clinics will cover the basics, these are no ordinary lessons.
"Suffering a life-altering injury is traumatic and scary, there's no doubt about that," said Van Sleet. "But it's our mission to show people that life-altering doesn't have to mean life-ending. It’s still possible to follow your passions after an injury. You just have to take a different approach. And that’s what our guys are here to teach."
By "different approach," Van Sleet alludes to his team’s unique style of play, a creative adaption the wounded veterans had to make in order to continue playing softball. Campers can learn from seasoned WWAST players like Greg Reynolds, a left-arm amputee who has learned how to one-handedly catch a pop-fly, toss off his glove and throw the ball home in one fluid motion, or from Josh Wege, a doubleamputee who can chase down a grounder on two prosthetic legs.
The WWAST Kids Camp idea comes from Susan Rodio, a longtime WWAST volunteer. Rodio noticed what a positive influence the team had on young amputees and decided to take it a step further.
"It just seemed like a natural fit to further our mission of educating and inspiring the public," said Rodio. "What better group to inspire than these kids who face some of the same challenges as our players."
Rodio, who is now the WWAST Kids Camp director, also added that she hopes to make the camp an annual event.
The WWAST Kids Camp is made possible by generous donations the team has collected while on its twoyear, nationwide softball tour. Large corporations have also contributed to the camp, including InDyne, the American Postal Workers Union, Atoka Properties, Ӧssur, Cold Stone Creamery, Baden Sports, Phiten, Saunders Prosthetics & Orthotics Group and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Louisville Slugger®, the original WWAST sponsor, will provide the bats, gloves and equipment bags for this year’s campers. The company also provides equipment for WWAST players.
"Life without a limb is limitless. That's our motto." said Van Sleet. "Thanks to these incredible veterans, our sponsors and our fans, we’ve been able to spread that message for a little over two years now. If this initial camp is a sign of things to come, I can’t wait to see what’s next for WWAST."
PDF release here
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team™ (WWAST) is a charitable organization whose mission is to raise awareness, educate and inspire the public about the strength and resiliency of America’s wounded warriors. The team was created in March 2011 and is comprised of veteran and active-duty military who lost limbs while serving in the military. WWAST travels the country playing able-bodied softball teams and is sponsored by Louisville Slugger, Ӧssur, the Washington Nationals and Zimmer, along with other major corporations. You can find more information about WWAST at thewwast.org.
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