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A Limitless World – Second in a Series
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.
This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the WWAST and Long Island. In the meantime please feel free to visit the event webpage www.warriorsny.org or on facebook, www.facebook.com/wwastny and learn, like and share the event. Or call Joe Bart at 631- 840-7787.
A Limitless World
No quit. No limits. No excuses. The National Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Theirs is not a war story, nor a political story. Theirs is a story of a world with limits does not have to be limited. It is a kid story, it is a Long Island story.
They are a softball team like you’ve never seen. Nearly twenty veterans of the post-9/11 era have come together to form WWAST; the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. As their name suggests, everyone on the team was injured in the line of duty and wears prosthesis of some sort. Their mission: “to raise awareness, through exhibition and celebrity softball games, of the sacrifices and resilience of our military, and highlight their ability to rise above any challenge.” They are coming back to Long Island in May 2018 for the third year in a row and fifth visit in the last 6 years.
This remarkable team that has been featured on HBO, ESPN, CBS Evening News, and Sports Illustrated, just to name a few will be playing two games. Against teams made up of first responders and local all-stars. The games are free because seeing is believing. They love Long Island and its people.
These young men live all over the country. They work, they go to school, and they have families. They have no regrets and feel blessed. Three Fridays a month they each go to their local airport headed to a common destination to play softball and spread their message. Sunday afternoons they head back home. They don’t do it for the money (when playing they get $ 70 per day). They do it because it is their calling. To help others learn what they already know, you can do anything.
They feel accepting what leads to a new normal is. The highlight of their year is a week in June. It is what much of their fundraising is about. It is called KidsCamp. Twenty amputee children and a parent spend a week at a softball camp, the team picks up all expenses. It is not because they are different, but it is because they are all so normal. HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel did a complete segment on this wonderful experience. Over two million people watched as Frank Deford told the story.
Your neighbors’ friends and family have seen it on Long Island first hand when they come to town. The games are thrilling, the celebration a joy. Local events allow everyone to say hello and meet them. They are smiling all the time. It is surprising when you thank them for their service, they thank you right back.
There are many stories to be told of Long Island and the WWAST. We will tell them in the coming months. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be proud. Here is a quick one.
How Long Island became home to a WWAST player
On the first visit, right after the team was formed in 2012, a player who lived in Atlanta came in. A 22-year-old Marine who lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan. Like all visits, it was only for a weekend. He had met a beautiful girl. They stayed in touch. When the team came back to play in 2014, he decided he would marry that girl and start a family on Long Island. The date was set. The night before the wedding they had their rehearsal dinner. As he was preparing to leave he heard a woman screaming for help. She had been in a car accident, the car was burning and her baby was trapped inside. He ran, pulled out the seat and carried the baby to safety. He declared, “Who wouldn’t.”
They are now married with a beautiful baby girl. Living on Long Island as we all know is not cheap. He wanted to provide (if you are like everyone else, especially when you meet him, you have forgotten that he has no legs). He worked as a steam fitter’s apprentice, but he wanted to do more. He wanted to continue to serve. He wanted to be a Suffolk County Policeman. He applied and passed all the tests required of an able-bodied applicant. He entered the academy and was voted class president. This past May he graduated and was assigned to the first prescient. I am sure you all know the story. The story of Matias Ferreria. It was covered worldwide as he was the first double amputee policeman in the country. Matias loves when his WWAST teammates come to visit and celebrate on Long Island. He will be hoping you join them. By the way, in 2016 TOPPS made him his very own baseball card.
WWAST is a 503c non-profit. It is not nor has ever been affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project. Theirs is not a world of politics or entitlement. Theirs is a world of the human condition at its very finest.
Angela’s House Walk
Angela’s House helps to raise awareness and support for children born and diagnosed as being medically frail, chronically ill or suffering from any type of life threatening condition and have limited services available to help. So the NY Sportscene Children’s Foundation was proud to walk with Angela’s House yet again for their Annual 3K Applebee’s for Angela’s House Walk at the Holtsville Ecology Center in Holbrook on September 19, 2017. Thanks to our entire team, who made it so much fun, all while raising funds for medically frail and disabled children.
Frank Lombardo Interviews Gary U.S.Bonds at the 3rd annual Golf Classic
Video Courtesy of Joseph Conway and Helen Proimos. Images courtesy of John Abbraccianento, Paul SEQUENCE Ferguson and James Gross.
The 2015 Kid’s Holiday Party was a success with almost 1000 attendees!
Enjoy these wonderful pictures.
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New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation Facebook Page:
New York Sportscene
New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit charity which helps to benefit and improve the lives of children and to help those in need live happier and healthier lives. The Mission of the New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation provides much needed support of local charities.
The charity was founded in 1995 by Entertainment and Sports Publisher, Mike Cutino. With the success of his New York Sportscene Magazines, Nightlife Magazines & TV and the DRIVE TEE® he found that by providing Star-Studded events that it was possible to raise funds to ease, touch and affect many lives, every day. By supporting local charities he saw it possible to provide immediate help to those in need, while supporting cutting edge technologies and research. We work hard toward the day when we are not needed.
Cutino who has been a leader in the sports and entertainment world for over 40 years, is an author and inventor. These unique entertainment and sports fundraisers are memorable fun and bring attention to these causes and local charities supporting our Mission.
Some of the Foundation’s All Star events include New York Sportscene Celebrity Golf Classic; Hunter’s Hope; the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation; Marty Lyons Foundation; City Meals on Wheels; Hero’s Foundation; Tomorrow’s Children; St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital; Stony Brook Children’s Hospital; Cancer Center for Kids; St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital; Shriner’s Hospital for Children and the Kismet Shriners; NYC Rescue Mission; Long Island Cares and NY Giants fundraisers, among many others. The Foundation works with innovative hospitals that are on the forefront of research and use the latest technologies and protocols. It takes more than one entity to help support children with serious medical issues, as well as helping the families heal and thrive. The 2015 Annual Celebrity Golf Classic will support the Family Services of Westchester Youth Residences Jerome Wagner Youth Residence for Boys and the Evelyn Sachs Steiner Residence for Girls, YES WE CARE Veteran Support Program and SUNY Farmingdale Alumni Association and Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Winthrop Hospitals Cancer Center for Kids, St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital, all worthy organizations doing great work.
Founder Cutino shares “Today’s children are the future and backbone of America and we need to do everything we can to help relieve suffering from their struggles”. He continues “If we can bring a smile to the face of a child or make a person’s dream come true by
meeting their sports hero, then we have made a difference.”
SUNY Farmingdale Receives Check from Funds Raised at Golf Event
Pictured above: (left to right) NY Sportscene Children’s Foundation Chairman Mike Cutino, President of SUNY Farmingdale Alumni Joe Egan, Alumni Relations Director Michelle Johnson and Regina Vazquez.
New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation Inaugural Golf Classic a Success!
(August 31, 2015) Commack, NY – The New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-for-profit organization, held its inaugural Golf at the Hamlet Golf and Country Club. This sell-out fundraising event saw attendees enjoy a full day of fun from golf with sports celebrities to a pool party for the kids featuring local pageant winners.
Brandon Steiner, Founder and CEO of Steiner Sports, was the official honoree at the Awards Dinner where local philanthropists had a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Daryl Strawberry, Joe Morris, O.J. Anderson, Greg Buttle, Sean Landeta, Brad Benson, Danny Aiello, Vinny Vella, Gary U.S. Bonds and other celebs.
When it was all said and done, supporters had a great time raising funds for important causes such as theFamily Services of Westchester’s Jerome Wagner Youth Residence for Boys and the Evelyn Sachs Steiner Residence for Girls; YES WE CARE, INC., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit charity designed to help improve the quality of life for the homeless, our Veterans, hospitalized children & cancer patients suffering alone and also the SUNY Farmingdale Alumni Association.
It was also announced that the 2nd Annual New York Sportscene Children’s Foundation Golf Classic has been scheduled for August 15, 2016.
Here is an exclusive photo album from the event so you too can share in the wonderful experience. Enjoy!
(All images are courtesy of John Abbraccianento. John can be contacted for bookings at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Click on image to rotate photos.