Charity Lacrosse Tournament Raises Over $50K for Wounded Soldiers
from press release
From left: (Ret.) Joe Wilkinson, USMC Sft. Liam Dwyer and Army Pfc. Josh Budd take in the lacrosse action at the sixth-annual Sticks for Soldiers Tournament in Fairfield, Conn. The Thanksgiving weekend event raised over $50,000 for the three injured servicemen.
© Kendra Bollinger
FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- A spring-like Saturday in November brought out the best in the Connecticut high school lacrosse community as 37 boys' and girls' teams, volunteers, referees, parents, alumni, local companies and supporters pulled together to raise over $50,000 at the sixth-annual Sticks For Soldiers Tournament held over Thanksgiving weekend at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
Proceeds from this year's efforts will support three severely-injured servicemen who were present with their families at the event: USMC Sgt. Liam Dwyer of Litchfield, Connecticut; Army Pfc. Josh Budd of Cheshire, Connecticut; and USAF Tech Sgt.( Ret.) Joe Wilkinson of Troy, New York. They each suffered injuries while serving in the Middle East.
With temperatures an unseasonably warm mid-60s and American flags dotting the fields, the day was festive. At midday, a ceremony was held to introduce and honor the three servicemen, and included the impressive Fairfield Police Department Honor Guard flanked by over 1,500 athletes and supporters at Taft Field. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Thomas Armas gave stirring remarks as he explained the sacrifice these men have made protecting our country as well as their fellow soldiers. Tournament director Jim Tommins welcomed and thanked all the teams, nearly 100 volunteers and supporters.
Teams played over 80 games in three venues, the Fairfield Ludlowe Cheerleaders and Dance Team performed, a second-grade pee-wee scrimmage was held and the silent auction table, raffles, bake sale and t-shirt tables were busy helping the fundraising effort. Every team participating was challenged to raise money over and above the team entrance fee, and seven teams raised more than $1,000 each.
"Thank you to all the volunteers and everyone else involved in Sticks for Soldiers," Dwyer said. "I truly feel honored to be one of the three recipients this year. Your generosity and support are beyond anything I could have hoped for."
"We couldn't have asked for a better time! We had a lot of fun," Wilkinson said. "We can never fully repay you all for what you have done but we will pay it forward." Josh Budd agreed, "It's great what they're doing in support of us all, it's awesome."
Barbara Budd, Joshua's mother added, "It is really encouraging to see so much support for Josh, Liam and Joe and for them to know that they are not forgotten. We really are thankful for everything."
"All of us are so thankful to these young men, and it's a privilege to work with the teams and volunteers, and motivate our players to think beyond themselves and make this happen," Tommins said. "The support has been exceptional."
About Sticks for Soldiers
Sticks For Soldiers is a charity lacrosse tournament held in Fairfield, Conn., to raise money for wounded troops. Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it is sponsored by Fairfield Ludlowe High School. The primary mission of the tournament is to provide support and give thanks to the service men and women who put their lives on the line and sacrificed for our country. A secondary objective is to create awareness among high school athletes to the sacrifices being made by people just a few years older than themselves. Through their play and fund-raising participation, the athletes demonstrate their tangible thanks and support. Begun in 2006, the idea came from long-time lacrosse advocate Mike Voucas. Supported by Fairfield Ludlowe head coach Chris Parisi and a number of dedicated volunteers, the tournament has now raised over $160,000 in six years.
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