Local Initiatives

Wounded Warriors Softball Scores Big with Co-op

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: July 11th, 2014

When Basin Electric Power Cooperative learned that the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team was coming to Bismarck, N.D., to play in the biggest softball charity event of the year, the co-op rolled out the red carpet.

Leonard Anderson of Chester, S.C., U.S. Air Force, background, and Mike Gallardo of Los Angeles, U.S. Army, foreground, sign a jersey for Beckham Holen, the son of Basin employees. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

Leonard Anderson of Chester, S.C., U.S. Air Force, background, and Mike Gallardo of Los Angeles, U.S. Army, foreground, sign a jersey for Beckham Holen, the son of Basin employees. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

The Bismarck-based co-op provided a $10,000 sponsorship to cover food, travel and lodging for the team during a three-day appearance at the Sam McQuade Sr./Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament, said Jennifer Holen, Basin Electric’s event planner/charitable giving coordinator.

The team of active-duty soldiers and veterans who lost limbs during their service in Iraq and Afghanistan plays able-bodied opponents nationwide to raise awareness about the nation’s wounded post-9/11 soldiers and offer inspiration to other amputees.

Victorious in their matchups in exhibition games against local military all-stars and senior stars June 27 and 29, the players, some as young as 24, wowed the crowd with their athleticism and their heroism.

“It was incredible to watch these guys,” said Holen. “Diving and jumping and doing the splits and catching the ball.”

While the tournament has been raising money for local charities since 1976, the arrival of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is what triggered Basin’s first sponsorship of the event, said Holen.

“We’re proud to sponsor and be supporters of the military in any way, shape or form,” she said.

Mike Gallardo of Los Angeles, U.S. Army, on first base and Todd Reed of Newtown, Mass., U.S. Army, on second base await, a hit from a teammate during a charity softball tournament in Bismarck, N.D. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

Mike Gallardo of Los Angeles, U.S. Army, on first base and Todd Reed of Newtown, Mass., U.S. Army, on second base await, a hit from a teammate during a charity softball tournament in Bismarck, N.D. (Photo By: Basin Electric)

Andy Buntrock, Basin Electric’s manager of financial planning and forecasting, threw out the first pitch at the Warrior Amputee Softball Team’s initial game. Buntrock is a master sergeant in the North Dakota Air National Guard, where he has served for nearly 18 years, including a tour in Iraq in 2007.

The team left quite an impression on children and older folks alike, said Holen, noting that her young son was eager to get autographs from team members.

“My 3-year-old was just star struck,” she said. “These men are true heroes.”

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