By: Brent Greenberg
It was time. As our nation’s capital, Washington DC is perhaps the most fitting location for Shootout for Soldiers. With the Washington Monument in the distance and the Pentagon across the street, Long Bridge Park was the ideal venue for the event.
At opening ceremonies Cpt. Ben Harrow, who had previously played on his prosthetics in Baltimore, spoke about the importance of Shootout for Soldiers – articulating the impact of bringing the community together around lacrosse. Harrow spoke highly of one of the local charities, the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps wounded servicemen and their families fill in the gaps throughout the recovery process.
The YRF and Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, whose mission is to provide quality housing and supportive services to our nation’s homeless Veterans, were the local beneficiaries of the event.
“[Yellow Ribbon Fund] focuses on the caretakers in the families. When I first got injured, there wasn’t really an organization that focused on the wives, girlfriends, and mothers in the families. Nowadays the war has died down and not so much in the news,” said Harrow on the impact of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. “Guys have gone home and there’s no one there to help with that support system and that’s what the Yellow Ribbon Fund does. It’s a support system and resource for those families to tie into for questions, financial help, or whatever they need.”
After Harrow’s opening speech, two dozens Veterans from all five branches took the field for the Veterans Game. Amongst the players was Hugh Nunn, who served in the Army from 1991-99 and was later stationed in Iraq In 2011. Through our program Operation Baggataway, which sends donated lacrosse gear to military bases around the world, Nunn was able to play lacrosse while stationed in Iraq.
“It was a little surreal playing in Iraq at 100 degrees on Sunday mornings,” explained Nunn. “Probably the most scared I was was when we took a convoy at about 20 miles an hour to play the team at the embassy. It was interesting thinking about those situations and what could happen on the way to a lacrosse game.”
Hugh Nunn (@laxpup) served from 1991-99 and as a contractor in 2011 when @opbaggataway gave him the opportunity to play lacrosse in Baghdad providing gear. An incredible story of how Operation Baggataway can give our servicemen and women a chance to play lacrosse overseas ???????? pic.twitter.com/xBHeSGo8eb
— Shootout for Soldiers (@SFSLacrosse) June 23, 2018
Two teams ran away as the fundraising leaders in DC. Soaring Eagles for Soldiers, made up of Elmira College alumni, led the way raising over $10,000. Playing on Soaring Eagles was Matthew Hayes who raised $3,500 on his own and led all individuals in fundraising. In second was an SFS staple, Army of Darkness raising over $6,500. Army of Darkness has become a movement within Shootout for Soldiers, with three teams registered during the summer of 2018 (Baltimore, DC, Philly).
The first year of Shootout for Soldiers Washington DC gave everyone who came an incredible atmosphere. The Washington Monument was visible from the field, Ronald Reagan Airport gave us a flyover every 10-15 minutes, and we played lacrosse for an incredible cause raising $40,838.35.