By Natalie Strom
They’re back! The Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) returns after a two-year break to face some of Marco’s best at bat. The team travels the country “to raise awareness, through exhibition and celebrity softball games, of the sacrifices and resilience of our military, and highlight their ability to rise above any challenge.” Made up of all post-9/11 veterans, the team will most likely win — by a lot.
These men are soldiers; they know how to fight and win. They fought for their country at any cost, even if it meant losing a limb. They came home and found a way, through their extreme athletic ability, to make a difference in the lives of other soldiers and regular civilians. They are used to fighting, overcoming obsta-cles and winning — whether it be at war, at home or on the field. So, yes, they will most likely win, even against a talented team of Marco Islanders.
The Marco “All-Star” team, which also consists of those who serve or have served our country and/or our city, includes personnel from the Fire Rescue De-partment, Police Department, Senior Softball League and Adult Softball League. The team will bravely battle the WWAST on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Winterberry Park, beginning at 10 AM. The game is free and open to the public.
A special “Warrior Lunch” will be held after the game at a cost of $20 per adult, with children under 12 free (limit two). Guests have the chance to meet the play-ers and get their autographs.
A “Meet and Greet” cocktail reception will take place the evening prior to the game at the Island Country Club from 7:30-9:30 PM. Tickets cost $75 and in-clude valet parking, heavy hors d’oeuvres and a chance to speak with the players one-on-one.
Hosted by the city of Marco Island Parks and Recreation and other sponsors, such as Joey’s Pizza, the Island Country Club, Cocomo’s Grill and Kretch’s Res-taurant, the team survives purely on donations to travel, play and to show other amputees and the general population, that these athletes, through extensive re-habilitation and training, are able to express their desires and perform the sport they love.
The young team has already played in front of crowds of up to 10,000 people. They have been featured on HBO, ESPN, “CBS Evening News” and in “Sports Illustrated,” just to name a few. They travel from all over the country with more than $2 million worth of prosthetics in tow, and they also almost always win. Watch out Marco Island All Stars…they’re coming for you!
To learn more about the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team, which is an entity unto itself, visit www.woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org.