By Rob Glidden
A small group of Southington athletes will use an upcoming soccer game as a chance to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
When the boys soccer team plays at home on Friday, Oct. 5, guests will be asked to donate $5 or more to “Headers for Heroes.” The donation is voluntary, but the players are hoping the enthusiasm in Southington for veterans translates to a successful fundraiser.
Leading the effort are seniors Eddie Klein and Andrew Goralski and junior Dan Connolly.
“We’ve seen how other teams came up with events like this, like the baseball team’s cancer awareness night,” Klein said. “We thought we could do something similar for veterans and things just fell into place.”
Before the game begins on that afternoon, a brief ceremony will be held in honor of veterans in Southington and across America. Local veterans will be invited onto the field and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Erardi is expected to speak. There will also be a color guard presentation. The soccer team will be wearing special uniforms with a camouflage design.
“They don’t get thanked enough for what they do,” Goralski said of the veterans. “Every time we mention this idea, people are really positive. Hopefully that means a big turnout.”
The Wounded Warrior project is an initiative aimed at raising awareness of wounded veterans and creating programs to support them. Inspired by the struggles of veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq with injuries, it has grown significantly over the past several years.
“It is a win-win for the soccer team and the WW project,” said Leonard Marcheselle, a former Board of Education member and advocate for local veterans. “The young boys are putting on the event to show their respect, support and appreciation for all the men and women who have put their lives on the line for us.”
With the football field out of commission as the artificial turf is installed, the bleachers on the soccer field could fill up quickly if the fundraiser draws a crowd. Klein advised guests to bring lawn chairs.
The students agreed that the community enthusiasm they have already seen meant that this event would likely return for another year and beyond. This year’s event will begin at 3 pm at the high school on October 5.
“It’s the least we can do,” Connolly said. “Looking forward, it could be a great thing the team could do annually.”