Wounded Warriors Inspire, Impress on the Diamond

By Jackie Bensen and John Wist
|  Saturday, May 7, 2011  |  Updated 10:27 AM EDT
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A group of Wounded Warriors are inspiring in a backyard game of softball...and winning.  News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

A group of Wounded Warriors are inspiring in a backyard game of softball...and winning. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

Many men and women have sacrificed life and limb to ensure that our freedoms are upheld. This sacrifice and the patriotism felt in this country have been even more evident in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death. But now some of those wounded in the fight are going even one step further, by spreading hope and encouragement through a spring pastime, softball.

The Veteran’s Administration and Louisville Slugger have come together to create the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Its intention was to help with rehabilitation of soldiers who had been hit with IED’s. But it’s become more than that for many of the players, and they are crushing teams with more arms and legs than they have.

“We’re the first amputee softball team in the world,” Coach David Van Sleet told News4’s Jackie Bensen. “Their military bond made it real easy for me. If I tell them to be somewhere, they’re there. That military background and history really comes into play here.”

On Friday night, on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, the Wounded Warriors team demolished the F.B.I. All-Stars 35-10. But it’s not just about winning; it’s about a unifying around what many consider to be debilitating disabilities.

“Some of the guys [were shot] as early as ’01, ’02, ’03; I was shot in ’06. That’s when I lost my leg,” Team member Spanky Gibson told Bensen. “But once we get together, it’s all just one big family.”

You can see these incredible heroes play two more times in our area. They play tSaturday at noon against Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The game will be at the Forest Glen Annex Softball Field in Silver Spring. And then they will take on the U.S. Naval Academy at the Academy’s campus in Annapolis on Sunday at noon.
 

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