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USA Patriots Amputee Softball Team playing at Smokies Stadium on May 7

The free event is a chance for the community to support local veterans. The talented softball team will face off against area first responders.

SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — On May 7, a team of American veteran amputees will face off against local first responders at Smokies Stadium.

The slow-pitch softball games are for a great cause. The goal of the event is to fill the stands and show support for wounded warriors.

The USA Patriot Amputee Softball Team isn't your typical lineup. They are all missing a piece of themselves, but are much stronger because of it.

The sacrifices they made for our country overseas is a testament to the grit they show on the field. Many are batting with one arm, running with prosthetics, and adapting to the game.

The nonprofit based in Florida was formed in 2011 as a way for wounded warriors to compete in adaptive sports and get the support they need.

Matt Gordon, the event coordinator for the fundraiser on May 7, said veterans speak a special language, and it's important to feel support from the community.

"They understand each other," Gordon said. "So when veterans come together, they're able to express different things that they might not be able to express to their closest friends or family."

The stars on the diamond are coming to Smokies Stadium for the first time ever in May.


"They are gonna come out here to East Tennessee, and we are basically gonna put on a free community event for everyone to come out and just enjoy a day at the ballpark," Gordon said.

The idea for the event formed last year and has been in the works ever since.

"About eight months ago, we were sitting around talking about how we can make a positive impact in the veteran community, and ultimately, we thought about, 'What is more American, than just going to the baseball field, having hot dogs and popcorn with your family and be able to enjoy,'" Gordon said.

The opposing teams are our own local heroes.

"They are active-duty military, veterans, firefighters, and police officers throughout the surrounding counties that are all going to come together form a team," Gordon said. 

They will play starting at 1:30 p.m. on May 7.

On top of the games, there will also be live performances, a veteran showcase, booths from local nonprofits and businesses, and a Black Hawk helicopter parked on the grounds for kids to get an up-close look.

The event is free, but there will be a chance to give donations at the door.

Filling each seat shows more support for past and present military personnel in the East Tennessee community and beyond.

"When we pack a stadium with 6,000 veterans and families, they're going to be in good hands to make sure we make a positive impact on those individuals," Gordon said.

The money raised will go toward providing resources for the veterans who need help.

"The veteran community comes back over from overseas and in a lot of instances they still carry some of those wounds, whether they're mental or physical, and we want to encourage individuals to obviously have access to the resources in front of them," Gordon said.

There's healing in every hit and catch of the softball.

Doors open at 11 a.m. at Smokies Stadium.

If you aren't able to come out, you can still donate online to the nonprofit here.