For many of those coming to watch, or even for many of the players, it’s just a baseball game. But for U.S. Army veteran Ed Hicks, Hits for Heroes is much more.
“It saves lives,” Hicks told the group of assembled coaches Tuesday afternoon who had participated in this year’s event. The group had gathered at the Dothan Country Club for the official awarding of the proceeds from the 2023 Hits for Heroes baseball games held back in February at Northcutt Field in Dothan.
“I am proud to announce that this year we will be donating $50,000 to Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warriors program,” said Angela Dunning, director of Hits for Heroes. “Over our 10 years of existence, we have donated a total of $479,715. Houston Academy and Providence have helped us raise the most money as they were the first two teams to ever participate.”
Back in 2013, Hits for Heroes donated $12,000 to various military charities, including the USO. The most money ever donated was $63,000 in 2020. Now all of the money is donated locally. An additional $500 will be donated to the Special Forces Group Night Stalker Memorial Fund.
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The presentation of the check was the highlight of the day, but the most emotional part of the luncheon came from Hicks when he told the group what Hits for Heroes means to so many veterans.
“Every coach sitting in here right now, I know y’all think it was nothing but a game,” Hicks said. “But forget about the game. Every dollar has changed a man’s life.
“If you don’t know, those are some real dudes who fly those helicopters. They don’t know you, you don’t know them. They do this for a time in their life … everybody that ever put on that uniform, they made a choice to save people they don’t even know. I’m not expecting you to understand it. I’m expecting you to understand what these people have done and continue to do.”
Hicks said he has a lot of respect for Jeep Sullivan because of what he does. That’s because a lot of veterans are not the same when they return from conflict. Through Jeep’s outdoor adventures (which includes hunting and fishing trips) it has made a difference in his own life.
He said of his first fishing trip, “I had no idea who these guys were when I got there, but I felt safe and it was OK. It was the most peace I have had since combat. And my wife noticed the difference. I didn’t know these guys before, but everybody there, I got each guy’s phone number and now we all keep in touch.
“So what I want you coaches to know is, it’s more than just a baseball game. You guys make a difference because every dime, every nickel, every penny we raised is money we can donate to Jeep Sullivan and change someone’s life.”