It is this group of men the baseball team at Lee University has decided to benefit through its second annual Military Appreciation Day.
The event will take place Saturday, April 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.
Head coach Mark Brew said the goal is to raise upward of $15,000 for the local DAV.
“These servicemen and women have done a great job,” Brew said. “Our community has a rich history of service, so I think it is just a good-fitting combination and opportunity to honor them.”
The baseball team continues the tradition of Lee University sports giving back through large fundraising events. Others include the volleyball team’s Volley for a Cure, the basketball team’s Hoops for Hope and the soccer team’s Kicking it for Cancer.
Brew said a military-focused event made sense to the team.
“Baseball is a team sport and the military is the ultimate team,” Brew said. “It is a lot of people getting one common job done. That is what we try to preach to our guys, too. We are here for a bigger cause.”
Supporters from the community have responded to the baseball team’s request for sponsorships.
Bank of Cleveland signed up to be the head sponsor for the second year in a row.
Senior Vice President Christy Griffith explained the event has a personal tie to the bank.
“One of the reasons of our sponsorship is our founder and chairman Bobby Taylor, who passed away several years ago, was a veteran, as well as, many of our customers, our clients and our friends,” Griffith said. “On a personal note, my father is a Vietnam veteran. It touches close to home for me.”
Added Griffith, “I think any time we can reach out and appreciate our active duty and veterans I think it is a great idea.”
Gray said he and his fellow veterans appreciate the support given by their fellow man over the last five to six years.
When he first returned from Vietnam, Gray had to take his military service off his resume to get a job.
“Now I can proudly wear my hat, my jacket,” Gray said. “Five or six years ago, it would not have happened. Society has changed and they realized you can’t blame the soldiers for the reaction of the government.”
Continued Gray, “The most patriotic, strongest person who loves his country is a veteran. I mean, quite literally, I shed my blood for this country and I would do it again, if they would take me.
“And to see society today, the way they are responding to us, it does our heart good.”
Gray said a number of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the war are showing ill effects.
The chemical was originally sprayed into the trees to kill the leaves. Gray said once the foliage was removed, soldiers were better able to see the enemy. Negative effects of the chemical all these years later include: high blood pressure, diabetes, congestive heart disease, skin cancers and bone cancers.
“The last veteran we just helped served three tours in Vietnam,” Gray said. “He was walking across the living room floor, 63 years old, and broke his back.”
The DAV purchased an electric wheelchair for the veteran and built a ramp to allow him access into his home.
A majority of the work completed by the local volunteer DAV chapter is completed on $4,000 to $5,000 a year. Brew said seeing what the chapter does with limited resources really stood out to him.
“To think we can help [the DAV] in a larger capacity is very exciting to us,” Brew said.
Those interested in helping out now can do so through one of two ways:
- Donating items for the silent auction.
- Purchasing a $10 Military Appreciation Day shirt from Brew; the Bank of Cleveland’s downtown branch; the Cleveland Daily Banner; or Jenkin’s Deli.
Brew encouraged businesses and restaurants to get involved through sponsorships or coupon donations.
For more information, contact Brew at 614-8638 or firstname.lastname@example.org.