What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear DAV (Disabled American Veterans)? Veterans from WWII, Vietnam – old men in wheel chairs, maybe sixty, seventy years old, older? Well, I had the immense pleasure of attending a Wheelchair Rugby game, DAV vs Sanford River Rats and Team USA Armed Forces Good Will Ambassadors on Friday, July 8. I was rocked awake, shocked back to reality! These Disabled American Veterans are my age, MY AGE! Hello! Afghanistan, Iraq. It felt like a personal slap in my face, as it should have hit me a long time ago, but this is the moment for me, that it finally sank in. I am so completely humbled and honored to have been in the presence and to have watched our heroes and our youth, our local ball players, our good will ambassadors come together, strap themselves in a wheelchair and TRY to keep up with these amazing DAV wheelchair rugby players! Sanford’s Palmetto Avenue Baptist Church hosted the game in their gym and their Pastor, Ron Williams, City of Sanford’s Mayor, Jeff Triplett, and River Rat’s GM, John Welton, watched from the sidelines as the Veterans, without breaks, exhausted most every ballplayer on the other teams! The Veterans were so kind as to occasionally backwards roll a ball through the goal line. What an awesome game to watch, full of energy, excitement from the players and the crowd, banging and clanging and clattering like you’ve never heard, but mostly a tug on your heart like you’ll want time and again! You’ll not want to miss this event should it come around again next year to become an annual City of Sanford, River Rats BaseBall, Team USA Armed Forces Good Will Ambassadors, and Disabled American Vets Wheelchair Rugby Event held at this local church in Sanford Florida!!
Written by: Sandy Adcox
(This article was first published in the Sanford Herald on July 24, 2011. Posted here with permission from the author.)