The whole idea of playing baseball while wearing snowshoes sounds challenging enough in itself. But many talented local athletes answer that particular challenge every summer in Lake Tomahawk.
But the challenge they face on the field is only temporary, lasting as long as they don the footwear.
One team the Snowhawks have on their schedule this summer are challenged in a more lasting way.
On July 25 and 26, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team will be in the area for three games. The first game Friday will be at Snowshoe Park in Lake Tomahawk at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday the team will play a doubleheader starting at noon at the Minocqua Parks Complex on Highway 70 West.
The team, made up of young men who have lost one or more limbs to injuries sustained in combat, travels the country playing against “able-bodied” players.
According to Don Hilgendorf, manager of the Lake Tomahawk Snowhawks, the players on the Wounded Warrior team were competitive softball players before their combat injuries. Through hard work in rehabilitation and the wonders of modern prosthetics, they have been able to resume competing.
“I think everyone is going to be surprised by these guys,” said Hilgendorf. “Not only are they real gentlemen, they also are great ball players.”
The estimated $40,000 it will cost to fly the team to the Northwoods and feed and house the players must be raised through local fundraising. Hilgendorf said fundraising efforts to-date have yielded 25-30 percent of that goal.
“We’d really like to at least cover their transportation, housing and meals,
Hilgendorf said. “But it’s coming along about like I expected.”
He said he expects donations to pick up now that warm weather is here and people are getting their tax returns.
Hilgendorf he didn’t know if the amputees will play Friday night in snowshoes.
“We’ll play that by ear,” Hilgendorf said. “Their coach said some of his guys are ‘just crazy enough to try it.’”
The money raised to bring the team here, as well as at the games, will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, including proceeds from a cash raffle that has a total prize pool of $3,500.
Hilgendorf said donations are still being solicited, and checks, made out to Wounded Warriors, may be sent to People’s State Bank, 9560 State Highway 70, Minocqua.
For more information, call Hilgendorf at 715-277-2554 or Jeff Smith at 715-277-2616.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.