Thanks to Tony Perri and Surf’s Up Studios for this video:
On Tuesday, May 30, the Old Goats of the Travis Manion Foundation and the Loews Good Neighbors hosted a wheelchair-basketball and barbecue event at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort to raise money for the Travis Manion Foundation. Some of Coronado’s city leaders joined the Old Goats to make this fundraiser possible and to play wheelchair basketball against San Diego Naval Medical Center’s Wounded Warrior Basketball Team, the Wolfpack.
The event began with Carrie Downey as announcer. The Kids Who Care led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced the Wolfpack. Downey introduced the City of Coronado players, who consisted of Mayor Richard Bailey, city council members, and Coronado High School basketball players. Mayor Bailey called the barbecue and games the “celebrity basketball event of Coronado.”
Kids Who Care
The Old Goats Kids Who Care is an auxiliary of the Old Goats. The Kids interact with transitioning wounded warriors. One member of the Wolfpack, Jorge Salazar, spent some time talking with the children. He also showed them the intricacies of the game in wheelchairs. The children took photos with the veterans, learned to use the wheelchairs, sang for the attendees, and gave gift cards and notes to the Wolfpack members.
Nancy Ratcliffe, a leader of Kids Who Care, explained that the Kids Who Care was formed as an offshoot of the Old Goats to encourage community involvement and give children experience that will help them learn to be effective and helpful citizens. The group goes on field trips, learns from people of all different backgrounds through their guest speaker program, and shows appreciation for veterans through cards and gifts as well as attending and helping at fundraisers.
“We’re here to show them [the kids] that caring has got to be a way of life and it needs to start at a young age,” Ratcliffe said.
Derik Mundt, a player on the Coronado city team, commented that the Old Goats Kids Who Care is a great way for children to directly interact with wounded warriors.
The Wolfpack took on the City of Coronado first. The Wolfpack dominated the court, so former Mayor Casey Tanaka amused the audience by creating his own scoring rules to allow the city team to somewhat catch up in points. In the end the score was 39 to 16 in favor of the Wolfpack. The smiles on the players’ faces and the laughter echoing across the court and throughout the audience showed all around good humor among the participants and spectators.
The second game between the Wolfpack and Loews Good Neighbors proceeded in a similar fashion, though the Loews team fared better than the city’s. The Good Neighbors team stated that they spent the last year practicing, and Tanaka’s point system may have helped even the score further. The final score was 30 to 26 in favor of the Wolfpack.
The Wolfpack allows its members to participate in new and old hobbies. According to Salazar, Wounded Warriors and the basketball program aid wounded veterans in continuing their recovery, gaining new experiences through travel, and finding people who have gone through similar experiences and share perspectives on the world.
Several attendees of the barbecue and basketball games expressed the importance of organizations like the Travis Manion Foundation and Wounded Warriors, particularly in communities like Coronado. San Diego has the highest concentration of navy personnel in the country, and it would be difficult to find someone in the county not connected to the military in any way. Porfirio Rodriguez, the Wounded Warriors program assistant, said that organizations fighting to better the lives of veterans are an important part of giving back to those who protect the country and reminding the community that hard work can get people wherever they want to go in life.
“One thing I would like them [the general population] to know is that not everyone is looking for a handout, you know. People like me, we’re looking for someone just to care and be there and understand that things happen over there. And sometimes we just need a hand up,” Salazar said. “We don’t need a hand out, we need a hand up.”
Jamie Baltazar, another member of the Wolfpack, added, “I just feel like there’s variations of levels of disabilities. Some disabilities are visible; some are invisible. So I just want people to be aware of that. And when they’re working with Wounded Warriors just know that something might not be visible, but they have an injury – be aware and conscious of that.”
The Travis Manion Foundation
This event was held to support the Travis Manion Foundation, whose mission is to “empower veterans and the families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.” Online fundraising brought in $945 and additional contributions were made bringing the total to $1,975. Donations can still be made on the Old Goats’ event page. More information about the foundation can be found on the Travis Manion Foundation website. A website is currently being created for the Old Goats Kids Who Care.