By Hayley Siegle
On Sunday, November 5, 2016, the 3rd Annual No Man Down Fall Lacrosse Classic, was held at Byram Hills High School. Over the past few years, Byram Hills Youth Lacrosse program has shown dedication and commitment to the men and women of our armed forces, recognizing their sacrifices for our country in a community-wide fundraiser. With much pride and happiness, our community has been able to give back to the men and women who have served our nation by participating in an annual lacrosse tournament that raises money and donates all proceeds to Building for America’s Bravest. This year, the tournament had over 50 teams competing in all divisions, both girls and boys from the modified through varsity levels. With games running from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, with a brief mid-day break to listen to the keynote speaker, the day was most definitely busy! The outstanding level of excitement, powerful sense of community, and great pride in our nation were all extremely apparent.
Building for America’s Bravest is a program that builds Smart Homes for catastrophically injured service members returning home from overseas. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual. Energy efficient, automated, and easily accessible homes use “adaptive technology” to help our most severely injured heroes live better, more personal lives. Some examples of how these men and women are able to lead easier lives with the help of technology include but are most certainly not limited to: retractable or easily accessible cooktops; cabinets and shelving, automated lighting, heating, air-conditioning, and window treatments controlled by an iPad; elevators; roll-in bathrooms; front-load washers and dryers; intercom systems; and automated doors. As amazing as adaptive home technology is in aiding these men and women, it is unfortunately extremely costly and therefore, not attainable for many. That is why we, as a community, have chosen this charity to donate 100% of the proceeds to. The fundamental goal of this fundraiser is to better the lives of one individual at a time by making these Smart Homes available to him/her.
During the midday break, keynote speaker Christopher Levi, a U.S. Army Corporal, addressed the athletes and their parents. While serving in Iraq in 2008, Levi was severely injured when an explosive device hit the armored Humvee he was traveling in. Sadly, he lost both of his legs and severely injured his left hand and arm in the accident, spending two and a half years in the hospital recovering. Since, Levi has passed the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam, pursuing his bachelor’s degree and has continued his recovery. Additionally, he is a leader for The Center for Discovery, a national specialty center for the advanced care and treatment of children and adults with significant disabilities. He is also a team leader and world participant of World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America ride. Clearly, Levi has demonstrated great perseverance since his injury and did not allow it to stop him from helping others. As a way to say thanks to U.S. Corporal Christopher Levi, a Smart Home will be built on Long Island for him, using all of the proceeds from the tournament.
This amazing event that seems to be more and more impressive with each year would not be possible without the dedicated adult volunteers within our community, many hailing from Byram Hills Youth Lacrosse and other local and worldwide sponsors. As Eric Siegle, the President of Byram Hills Youth Lacrosse and a committee member of the No Man Down Fall Lacrosse Classic noted, “This year was a tremendous success as a result of the outstanding effort of a great group of volunteers.” In addition to the tremendous help and generosity from these places, our very own, Students Serving Soldiers Club, led by Mr. Gulick, played a huge role in this event. This club established in 2011, a group of individuals who are dedicated to our nation’s heroes, send care packages, support veterans, and contribute to a number of military related charities throughout the year. At the tournament, they helped out and promoted the Students Serving Soldiers Club through their great presence.
The day was phenomenal and the community’s commitment to helping others was undoubtedly apparent with the tremendous turnout and great effort of the volunteers. The players gave it their all and knew they were doing it for a good cause. Athlete Joely Coviello stated, “It’s a great cause to continuously be a part of, and I enjoy playing lacrosse.”
While many of the athletes and adults present at the tournament have a passion for lacrosse, it seems as though the most special part of the tournament was having the opportunity to listen to Army Ranger Corporal, Christopher Levi. Joely Coviello further explained, “The best part of the tournament was listening to the recipient of our donations speak about both how we are helping to improve his life and all about his own personal story helping others.” Mr. Siegle further elaborated, “Corporal Levi gave a very compelling address to the audience, which was very inspirational and moving. It really exemplified why we wanted to do this tournament in the first place.”
It is without a doubt that this event is one of our community’s largest accomplishments! Take it from Corporal Levi, who exclaimed, “It’s really something to see,” when describing the tournament. As we approach Veterans Day, a day in which we shall honor those who have sacrificed and risked everything to keep our nation safe, I’ll leave you with the words of Levi, “The team comes first and the individual comes second. We all get to be here today because there are other people out there doing things for us that we don’t even know that they are doing. They are not doing it for themselves, they are doing it for us.”