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Wow! It’s the day after the Shootout and I’m still riding this incredible wave of excitement mixed with exhaustion. My body is pretty sore from playing in three games (ok…very sore) and I’m still a bit tired from going nearly 40 hours without any sleep…but the feeling of pride in what not only Boston, but teams from across New England accomplished, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, continues to amaze me!

At the end of our 24 hours of lacrosse, Shootout for Soldiers Boston raised nearly $57,000 for our wounded Veterans, more than doubling what we raised in our first year. Over 1,000 players set foot on Cushing Field to play for our Veterans and over 6,000 people in 24 hours attended the Shootout. Pile on top of that our National Anthem singer, Al St. Louis, set a new world record, beautifully singing our National Anthem 25 times in 24 hours! Not bad for a 24 hour period!

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Charlie Gressett Photography

With the Shootout still fresh in my mind, I reflected on what the past few days meant to me. Professionally, I love that the Shootout for Soldiers brings together so many people from diverse backgrounds through our love of the sport. We had people playing from age 7 to 70, from the south Shore, from inner Boston and from states across New England. Men, women, boys and girls all played on Cushing Field during the 24 hours without a break or gap in the schedule. Lacrosse Sports Network was there to capture the magic of the event. The Eastern Mass Lacrosse Chapter was there to help grow the game as was our local Major League Lacrosse Team, the Boston Cannons. It truly was a New England event!

Personally, the incredible outpouring of support always moves me from those who want to support our Veterans. As an active duty Army Officer who has served over 22 years, I have witnessed the physical, mental and emotional wounds my brothers, sisters and their families have to endure. We all know the care they require will take a lifetime and it is more than just the government’s responsibility to take care of them. The fact that over 6,000 people came out in a 24-hour period to show their concern and to donate their hard earned money to help them, well, it is astonishing.

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The incredible crew of young adults that run all the events, once again came up to Boston with all their energy, passion and charm to make this a great event. They truly represent what is best about our youth and they continually restore my faith in the future of our country. Umass Lowell was an incredible host. They were with us every step of the way. From planning, media notices, to having staff members on site for the full 24 hours, to cleaning up once the closing ceremony was over and all players were long gone. A special thanks to our charity beneficiaries who, as Tyler Steinhardt stated at the closing ceremony, do the hard but vitally important work with our Veterans and their Families every day.

Thanks to the referees who volunteered their time, ensuring our games were safe and played correctly. Thanks to Precision Athletic Training who, once again, provided trainers to make sure we all stayed healthy and took care of those who were hurt. Thanks to our sponsors who not only donated money to the cause, but who also were there with their time. Thanks to the volunteers who volunteered their time to make sure this event ran as smooth as possible for a full 24 hours. Thanks to the teams, the coaches, the parents, spouses, friends and families who supported the entire event: you truly represent what is best about Boston, our region and our nation.

Finally, thanks to Rachael Rennie who first recommended (well, more like insisted) we do this event at Umass Lowell. Her passion for our Veterans and lacrosse community is second to none and the success of the second running of the Boston Shootout for Soldiers is directly due to her hard work. Julia and I are proud to call her our lacrosse daughter and could not be prouder of her!

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From me, I offer you all my heartfelt thanks and appreciation. You all worked so hard, played terrifically, and once again took time from your incredibly busy lives to send a message to our Veterans: we are here for you and will support you. As I get ready for some much needed sleep (and Motrin!), I’m already thinking about how to make the 2017 Boston Shootout even better.

See you all next year!

With the utmost respect,

Mike Sullivan

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