Dayton Warriors Softball Fund: Honoring Veterans by Celebrating Dayton’s Rich Softball Heritage
When Scott Kuhnen retired from the United States Air Force in 2014, combining his passions for two of America’s most enduring patriotic symbols – honoring veterans and playing softball – seemed like a natural calling.
After watching the locally produced documentary “The Fall League,” Scott was inspired to create an event that would benefit local veterans. The film highlights senior adults, who have an enduring love for playing softball, and features the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST).
“I approached Tim Gebard, the film’s producer, about working together to host the WWAST to celebrate Dayton’s rich softball history,” Scott said. “We created this all-volunteer organization to involve local veterans’ organizations and senior softballers to raise funds for community causes right here in the Miami Valley.”
In 2016, they established a Charitable Checking Account℠ through The Dayton Foundation to manage expenses and make grants to Dayton-area, veteran-based causes.
“The Dayton Foundation has leaned forward to help us and has been an outstanding partner every step of the way,” Scott said. “With the Foundation’s help, we are able to keep our expenses low, and their adminis- trative support eases our burden to accept donations and acknowledge funds, particularly for larger gifts.”
“The Dayton Foundation has leaned forward to help us and has been an outstanding partner every step of the way.”
– Scott Kuhnen, Dayton Foundation donor
The inaugural Dayton Warriors Softball Fund event was held in 2016 at Wright State University. Through WWAST-hosted events, players with amputations of varying kinds compete against able-bodied players. Scott points out that the WWAST charges only a nominal fee to cover its expenses in order to raise as much money as possible for local charitable causes. Thanks to the success of the 2016 event, an $11,000 grant was awarded to the new Fisher House at the Dayton VA Medical Center.
“We are so thankful for the support from the Dayton Warriors Softball Fund, which assists us with purchasing startup items and household supplies for our guests when we open the Fisher House this fall,” said Chris Stanley, executive director of Fisher-Nightingale Houses, Inc., the local nonprofit that funds annual operations and other support costs for local Fisher Houses. “This grant will help ensure that Fisher House guests have what they need and are supported at no cost to them.”
The group expanded its support last year to include the Honor Flight Dayton, Inc., with plans to add another beneficiary this year, Combat Outpost Robinson, Inc., which addresses military and veteran suicides. The group holds fundraisers throughout the year and also accepts donations from local veteran- minded businesses, individuals, veteran organizations and civic groups.
“The Dayton area is blessed to have many local companies that support veteran causes, and these donations have been a crucial part of our ability to help our local beneficiaries,” Scott said.
Unique to Dayton’s WWAST event is a heartwarming ceremony to honor local veterans between the two exhibition games. In 2016, Vietnam Veterans rounded the bases to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. In 2017, veteran service organizations were invited to participate, and this year’s honorees will be local Gold Star families in recognition of their and their loved ones’ ultimate sacrifices.
“Based on the longtime signoff of legendary Cincinnati Reds announcer Joe Nuxhall, who said at the end of each broadcast that he was ‘rounding third and heading for home,’ our ceremony takes veterans around the bases to receive thanks and mementos from local dignitaries and our fund’s beneficiaries,” Scott said. “We invite all Dayton-area veterans and their families to join us on October 13, 2018, as we honor these Gold Star families who have sacrificed so much in the defense of our country.” ❧
To help support this cause,please consider a gift to the Dayton Warriors Softball Fund.
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