Amputee Softball Team visits Bound Brook May 30 for 2 charity softball games
Benefit includes Operation Shoebox New Jersey Packing event
The all-day benefit will be at Billian Field, 544 East Union Ave., Bound Brook.
There will be two games at 1 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Admission is free.
Operation Shoebox New Jersey will host a packing of personal care packages for US troops adjacent to the ball field prior to and during both games, beginning at 11 a.m.
The games are sponsored by the NJABL; all proceeds benefit the WWAST and OPSHBX NJ.
The NJABL will host a “Home Run Derby” with players from both teams competing in an elimination match to help raise funds featuring special guest and International home run king Domingo Ayala. A renowned baseball instructor and celebrity, Ayala promises to step up to the plate to help the cause. In the Dominican Republic, Domingo has been a 7-time Infielder of the Year and 6-time Outfielder of the Year award winner.
NJABL players have paid a registration fee to compete, with all proceeds from the Home Run Derby donated to WWAST and OPSHBX NJ.
The NJABL will also be selling specially-designed shirts and hats to raise donations; a food vendor will be open all day adjacent to the field, with a portion of the sales donated to the cause.
The WWAST is comprised of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs. The team includes individuals with a variety of amputations — of the arm, above knee, below knee, bilateral below knee, and foot. Some are still in the service, others are attending college while others have moved on to new careers. They now travel the country playing able-bodied teams in competitive, celebrity and exhibition softball games, bringing their special brand of softball, courage and inspiration, according to David Van Sleet, CEO & General Manager of WWAST.
“Our goal is to support and honor our soldiers and veterans’ sacrifices, and to show other amputees and everyone who sees or hears about us that life without a limb is limitless,” Van Sleet said. “Our mission is to inspire and educate others while enhancing the health and welfare of Wounded Warrior Amputees,” he added.
“Our softball program inspires and educates everyone who watches our games, including other amputees and anyone who has challenges to overcome,” Van Fleet said. “It also enhances the health and welfare of the Wounded Warrior amputees who play on our team.”
Founded in March, 2011, the WWAST has played games in hundreds of cities and towns in 32 states, according to Van Sleet.
“We are honored to share the field on this special day with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team,” said Rod Hirsch, founder/executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey. “What a privilege it will be to cheer for these true American heroes.”
Operation Shoebox New Jersey expects to pack upwards of 500 personal care packages that will be shipped to US troops deployed around the world. Everyone is invited to help assemble the care packages, according to Hirsch.
Mike Mazzolla, president and co-founder of the NJABL, has been looking forward to the doubleheader and the opportunity to showcase the talented WWAST team. He booked the game with Van Sleet 18 months ago.
“The moment I spoke to him and understood what they were doing, I knew it was something I wanted to do; the league is excited by the opportunity and looking forward to May 30,” Mazzolla said.
The NJABL, based in Middletown, has over 100 teams and 1,500 players throughout New Jersey.
“I’d been looking for ways to involve the league in charity work; I figured we could do some good for the community, rather than just getting together to play baseball,” he added.
The NJABL teams will be comprised of 10 active duty or veterans of the Army, Marines and Air Force, according to Mazzolla, as well as players who have a family history of military service. Five members of the Bound Brook fire department will also be on the field, as well as an amputee who plays regularly with the NJABL.