Thanks. Giving. Thanksgiving. The two words come together out of being grateful. The members of The National Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team are grateful. They give thanks. They give of themselves. Be it to amputee children at their weeklong KidsCamp and to all they touch. Their story is a story of a world without limits. It is a kid story; it is a Long Island story.
On their visits to Long Island, they have become magnets of emotion. Laughter, amazement, joy, celebration, inspiration, and motivation. They give and the people of Long Island give right back. Team leader, Josh Wege once said we get applause all over, but there is nothing like the applause from New Yorkers and Long Islanders. Thanks. Giving.
During the visit in 2016, the opening ceremony was a mosaic of supporters and the curious all to a background of American Flags. There was a special participant that day. She met the team at the hotel that morning and rode to the game with them on the great Winters Jet Bus. She was 5 years old. Her name was Lily Bonacasa. She was with her mom, Dee, a veteran herself. Her dad, Louie “Bones” Bonacasa had heroically died in battle as a member of the Army overseas just months before. She showed up wearing a special shirt for the occasion.
When we got to the field, she helped lead us in the Pledge assisted by Jack Fenech, the Patriot Guard Riders, and yes a collection of Long Islanders. Also helping were the two beautiful children of WWAST player Ben Mitchell. Col. Mitchell then took her out on the field where she threw out the first pitch. She loved it and wanted to keep doing it over and over again.
It was a great day for everyone. Also present were members of Long Island ABATE. LI ABATE promotes motorcycle safety and giving back to the community. In addition to toy and food runs, they also have a veterans day fundraising run. They have private donors who will match 3 dollars for every one donated. Once a year, they split up the money among local veterans organizations.
At their 2017 dinner, they would be presenting a donation to The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, for all they do for the veteran community on Long Island. The NY volunteer coordinator, Joe went to the event. He sat with the Bonocasa family as the donations were announced. Then came the final one.
A local restaurant had held a fundraiser for the Bonacasa family to help them and Lily. They raised several thousand dollars. Dee then announced they felt so blessed by the outpouring of support of the Long Island veteran community. She went on to say they donated all the money to ABATE to help others. Well ABATE matched the money 3 to 1. Jim Barr, their president, then helped negotiate the purchase of a 12 passenger van. This van was given to the Northport VA to assist in giving vets rides back and forth. The Louis “Bones” Bonacasa Transport.
This was not magic. This was simply thanks and giving. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team looks forward to seeing Lily and all the great people of Long Island when they come back to play in their only NY appearance May 19 (Huntington) and May 20 (Medford) 2018. For more details and to stay up to date www.warriorsny.org and like and share www.facebook.com/wwastny.
Save the dates, you will be thankful you did.