Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team to display talents in Bay Ridge this summer

Our nation’s heroes that have sustained devastating injuries are ready to swing for the fences in Bay Ridge.

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, formed in 2011, announced on April 3 at Shore Road Park that the group will compete in a game against non-injured players on July 12.

State Senator Marty Golden was on hand for the announcement, along with general manager David Van Sleet, local community and parks activist Chip Cafiero, Long Island based team supporter Joe Bartumioli, and wounded soldier and player Joshua Wege, who lost his legs during battle.

“This is going be a great event being that this is such a patriotic community,” said Cafiero.

Golden was thrilled to announce the patriotic event, and expects the entire borough to experience the soldiers’ fortitude. “We are looking to get our community to give an outpouring support so we can have a great game that day,” he said. “This is a great mission. It shows the sacrifices and resilience of our military. They are truly inspirations as American heroes.” All of the men and women on the team have lost limbs while serving the country.

“For us, to be able to be competing again, it has filled a lot of voids that were taken away when we got hurt,” said Wege, who was injured on October 4, 2009. “This team gives us a chance for the community to come together and really bond. The guys that are on the front lines, they show their pride in their nation. This team is really a message of hope and perseverance.”

Although the softball team has traveled all over the country the past three years, Van Sleet stated that playing in New York held a special significance. “All of our guys joined the service after 9/11 happened to defend the country, so to come to New York City to play, it’s bringing us full circle. All these guys are amputees. They’ve gone through an extensive rehabilitation process, so to be able to come to New York will be a remarkable experience.”

Wege wears two prosthetic legs, but he didn’t let that put a damper on his aspirations. He started his journey to recovery with one accomplishment at a time. “I thought (playing softball) was a pretty modest goal. In therapy you have to set goals for yourself. I wanted to live my life and someday have a family. I wanted to be able to wear a pair of pants and look normal. I got to that point, but I wanted more. That’s human nature: setting goals and pushing yourself,” he said. “It’s amazing what they human body can do even without it being fully functional.”

Wege has been with the team, which consists of a wide range of ages (22-52 years old), since its inception and, with his teammates, has played various softball teams, including police departments. “We play ‘able-bodied’ teams,” said Wege.

Through the competitive nature of game, the real message is clear according to Wege: never give up. “Life is literally 95 percent mental. The physical part is easy. I’m testament to that. I’m missing my legs and I’m still doing it,” he said. “Amputation should be a limit but I don’t let it define me.”

The official venue for the game is still being decided, but admission will be free of charge. For more information on the event or how to become a sponsor, visit www.warriorsny.com or www.facebook.com/warriorsny2014.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.