The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team will be returning to Sulphur in 2014.
The nationally recognized team is comprised of amputee and active-duty military personnel and veterans who have lost limbs post-9/11 while serving in the military.
According to the organization’s website, its mission is to raise awareness through softball of the “sacrifices and resilience” of military men and women, and “highlight their ability to rise above any challenge.”
Last year, the team made a visit to Sulphur — despite an already full schedule — to compete against Jennie Finch-Daigle’s Bayou All-Stars.
Head coach David Van Sleet said fans welcomed the team with open arms and brought in $202,000 in donations. The two-day event drew a crowd of 5,700 fans.
Van Sleet told the American Press following their 2012 visit that donations raised in Sulphur would fund the team for an entire year and that Southwest Louisiana was “probably the most hospitable and generous trip we’ve ever been on.
“Obviously it shows there’s a lot of patriotism, military support and just overall good kindness for people with disabilities in this area.”
The team will return June 20-21, 2014, and event details and plans are already being thought of to make this visit equally successful.
Mayor Chris Duncan said the last time the team visited the area a planning committee was assembled and had a few months notice, but an advantage with their 2014 visit is the committee has an entire year to plan.
“Having a whole year gives us more time to do more things in the community,” he said. “Several groups have already started trying to get fundraisers together so they can present the team with checks.”
Karen Lambert, spokesperson for the planning committee, said they are in the very beginning stages of planning, but having a year to plan will allow more time to secure sponsorships.
“It’s important for us to start early so that we can get additional support this go-round,” she said. “We had great support last time and I know if we had more time that a lot more businesses and area residents would have liked to get involved as well.”
Duncan said the planning committee set a goal for the 2014 event — raise $50,000 more for the team than what was donated in 2012.
“It’s a great honor to have them here two times and for it to be their only stop in Louisiana,” he said. “We’re excited and we want them to feel the love and support of our community again. It says a lot of our community that they want to come back.”
Lambert said with having more time to plan for the event, there will be more sponsorship opportunities.
“We plan to offer sponsorship to those who sponsored last time first,” she said. “Then we will begin looking for additional individuals and businesses who want to sponsor.”
Lambert and Duncan both said since Thursday when the word got out that the WWAST was returning they’ve gotten a “great” response from the community.
“We anticipate a really good response from the community, a lot of people are really excited already,” Lambert said. “It was a really heart-warming event. It’s something you don’t really see in this area, so we’re definitely excited to have them again.”
For more information about the team and their tour stops, visit www.woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org.