The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) and Ballparks of America will host their first ever Alumni Kids Camps in Branson, Mo., on Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.
This event is for the kids that participated in one of the first three WWAST Kids Camps in Orlando, Louisville, or Mission Viejo and will provide an opportunity for players and past campers to reconnect. Of the three past camps, 27 alumni campers from all over the United States will attend the event.
Clay Watson of Sugar Land has benefitted from the camp. Clay attended the 2015 WWAST Kids Camp in Mission Viejo and will be attending the Alumni Kids Camp in the fall.
“I liked hanging out with other people like me. I also learned other ways to transition the ball from my glove to my hand from Coach Greg (Reynolds), which was cool,” Clay said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the friends I made and getting to play ball with them again.”
The WWAST is made up of veterans and active duty soldiers from all service branches who have sustained injuries resulting in amputation. Through extensive rehabilitation, they have become competitive athletes again, playing against able-bodied teams in competitive, celebrity, and exhibition games across the country.
In past camps, kids living with limb loss were taught the game of softball and were mentored by players of the WWAST. By having such strong role models mentoring the children, they can see that even though they are different, they can overcome those differences and lead a successful life with a career, family, sports, or whatever else they may aspire to be.
“This Alumni Kids Camp encompasses everything that WWAST hopes to achieve in its mission to inspire others”, said Josh Wege, WWAST Player and Chairman of the Board. “The WWAST, a team of veterans, embodies the true meaning service beyond the uniform and will not forgot nor take it for granted. It is our absolute privilege to hang up our bats and gloves for the weekend and mentor these kids with ‘so-called’ disabilities.
“Personally, all I have witnessed is strength. Throughout their shorts lives, these kids have been tested more than most people will be in their entire life. The combination of strength and the smile I have seen on the kids’ faces means everything to me.
From the outside, it may seem like the WWAST is the one giving back, but in reality, it is kids that give back to us. It is a blessing and a privilege to host these camps,” he said. ¬
Ballparks of America will host this year’s Alumni Kids Camp at its newest and coolest stay and play facility in the nation. The kids will play on 2/3-size replicas of five iconic Major League Baseball fields spanning the history of baseball. From the St. Louis Stadium, Detroit Stadium, Chicago Field, Brooklyn Field, to Boston Park, these kids will be living like pro baseball players in this one-of-a-kind facility.
“We are honored to partner with the WWAST to create opportunities such as this for America’s youth. Ballparks of America was built as a once in lifetime experience for 10-13-year-old baseball players, softball players of all ages and their families.
We are proud to use this beautiful facility to provide life affirming experiences for children and our nations’ wounded warriors,” said Hamilton Chang, CEO of Ballparks of America.
“We, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, are so thankful to have this opportunity to partner with Ballparks of America in hosting our Alumni Kids Camp,” said Brian Gentilotti, WWAST player and Alumni Kids Camp Director. “It is organizations like this that allow us to better work towards our mission to inspire and educate others while enhancing the health and welfare of Wounded Warrior Amputees.
Being an amputee is not always easy, but I would not trade my life for anything because I get the privilege to be able to be a part of things like Kids Camp.”