BREVARD COUNTY — Local law enforcement agencies and city officials went head to head against players from the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) during the weekend and found their motto to be true: Life Without a Limb is Limitless.
Fred Poppe Regional Park in Palm Bay was abuzz Saturday, Feb. 24, with nearly 3,000 spectators viewing the charity softball tournament and taking part in other family activities including games, exhibits, raffles, food trucks and a car show.
“The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team represents a group of our bravest and most determined military veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.
The morning started with the WWAST players being escorted to the field from the American Legion Riders and Corvette Club.
“The crowd was lined up as we approached the park, holding flags,” WAST player Jeff Hackett said. “These proud Americans honoring us was truly inspirational and they were roles models for all of the young children who were there.”
Once at the field, WWAST players practiced with local Little League teams, and an opening ceremony was held to kick off their three-game series.
The first game pitted the WWAST against the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department co-ed softball team, The Enforcers, who won the game 20-6.
The second and third games put WWAST players up against local first responders and Palm Bay city officials. Final scores for those games were 10-6 and 14-8, respectively, with WWAST players claiming both wins.
“We had our work cut out for us playing three amazing teams made up of local heroes in the county,” Mr. Hackett said. “It was a true honor, but in the end, we played tough and took two of three games, all while having fun.”
After expenses, the event raised close to $10,000, which will be used to support the WWAST Kids Camps.
WWAST hosts an annual Kids Camp where players spend time with 20 children ages 8 to 12 with amputations. During the week-long softball camp, team members serve as coaches and mentors, covering all of the expenses for the children and their guardians.
The Kids Camp for 2018 will be from June 10 to June 17 in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The WWAST was founded in 2010, and is a standalone nonprofit public charity with headquarters in Virginia. It is comprised of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active duty soldiers from across the United States who have lost limbs.
The team has 34 players who travel the country playing able-bodied teams in celebrity and exhibition games.
“We are contacted by local communities that want to sponsor us to play,” WWAST Executive Director Dennis Wince said. “Our schedule fills up quickly. We try to play two events a month, but during the summer months that schedule sometimes increases.”
Local sponsors for the event included Northrup Grumman, Comprehensive Health Services, Palm Bay Parks and Recreation, Victoria Landing, American Legion Post 117 Waterfront Resort Assisted Living, Veritas and The Upper Deck.
“We cannot achieve the vision of our organization to continue to serve beyond the uniform without the help of communities like yours,” WWAST player Chris Hutton said. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to play in such an outstanding event.”