GREEN We all have our idea of what a "hero" is. And at the recent MAPS pancake breakfast, attendees got a chance to see and meet some authentic American heroes. They were members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, which was in town to take part in a charity double header at Canal Park to aid Donovan's Kids Camp and the Summit County Stand Down Program to help homeless and displaced veterans.
As the name implies, the members of the team are former members of the military who have lost a limb in the service of their country. While the majority have lost one leg or arm, there were several with two amputated limbs and at least one with three. Yet, in talking with these veterans one would never got a sense of self pity, but rather of a quiet courage to keep on going with their lives, making the best possible of each day.
Daniele Green plays right field for the team and is the mother of a 2 year old. She is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan in the Military Police. Prior to that, the Chicago native had gone to college at Notre Dame where she played basketball. While serving in Baghdad in 2004, she was hit by a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) in the arm which led to it being amputated.
"Coming here today was an awesome experience when you see how the community responds to such an event," said Green, who was honored for her fortitude by being selected for the Pat Tillman Award in 2015. Tillman was an NFL player who put his career on hold and joined the military after 9/11 and subsequently died in Afghanistan in 2004.
Jeff Hackett, who plays catcher and first base, is an Army veteran from Syracuse, N.Y., who lost an leg and part of his arm to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
"Our visit her today was just a great day", he said. "We learned about a lot of history here and the sacrifices and deeds involved in the exhibits."
Josh Wege, a Marine, hales from Wisconsin and plays in the outfield. He lost both his legs to an IED in Afghanistan.
"This is a beautiful museum," he said. "I loved the presentation of the history here. It lets people know where you left your mark and keeps history alive."
MAPS Director Valerie Kinney, who helped coordinate their tour, was "honored to have the team come to MAPS. When they got off the bus, they made a beeline for the MASH tent and the helicopters. They were so excited, almost like little kids, to see the exhibits. They have great spirit and enthusiasm and served as an inspiration to all of us."
MAPS Executive Director Kim Kovesci, a Vietnam Veteran veteran, said, "It was a pretty humbling experience to be around them when they told their stories. The sacrifices they have made are so far above we have made, we owe a lot to these brave men and women."