06/29/2014 5:07 AM -
Over the last three years, a July 1 baseball game in support of veteran causes has become a staple at Oil City Stadium. On Tuesday, the Northwest Indiana Oilmen will take the field to play the Southland Vikings, but for one day, the baseball game itself will be secondary to the cause at hand.
The Northwest Indiana Oilmen have announced that the Veterans Benefit Game on July 1 will raise funds for Northwest Indiana Habitat for Humanity’s “Veterans Build Project.”
The Veterans Benefit Game is presented by Hoosier Daddy Barbecue Sauce and will allow the Oilmen to show their support for all veterans of the United States armed forces. Sixty percent of all ticket sales from the game will benefit the “Veterans Build Project,” which is a joint effort between Habitat for Humanity and the Northwest Indiana Veterans Action Council to build homes for veterans in need.
The Northwest Indiana Veterans Action Council is a committee that seeks to coordinate services provided to active service members and veterans and to promote awareness of new initiative on their behalf. The organization is committed to helping veterans find educational opportunities, job opportunities and recognition of employers.
“This is a wonderful event and we’re happy that we came into communication with Oilmen President Don Popravak,” NWI Veterans Action Council Chairman Michael Sparber said. “This is a tremendous outreach to the veterans’ community to show that the Oilmen have their hearts in the right place by helping veterans.”
Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana seeks to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope. The organization has been helping build homes since July 1986. This is the first time ever that Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana has partnered with the NWI Veterans Action Council for what both organizations hope will become an annual veterans’ build.
“It’s exciting for us because we have the chance to help someone who served our country,” Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana Executive Director Dan Klein said. “It’s a great event at a great stadium. Everybody loves the baseball, mom and apple pie kind of thing. It’s a great time to take your family to an event where you not only get to support veterans, but you’re helping give back to those who have served.”
The pageantry and patriotism of the pregame ceremony is sure to provide a special precursor to the ballgame itself. During a week that is all about celebrating the country, the Oilmen will recognize those who have served.
The 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry will be on hand for the pregame festivities. In addition, World War II veteran Bill Wellman and Gold Star Mother Patti Nowaczyk will be guests of honor and throw out ceremonial first pitches.
Wellman plays “Taps” from his home every night as part of a ritual that began on January 2, 2013. The song, frequently played at flag ceremonies and military functions, is a recognizable national symbol.
Wellman is also well known for his work at Whiteco Industrials, Inc. in Merrillville and as an author of the book “It’s Made to Sell – Not to Drink!” The multifaceted Wellman will represent current and former marines and all who have served when he tosses out the ceremonial first pitch. Wellman joined the Marine Corps at that age of 17.
Nowaczyk will throw out a ceremonial first pitch in honor of her son David, who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving his country. David Nowaczyk lost his life in battle on April 15, 2012 after saving so many lives during his three tours of Afghanistan.
“I’m very honored to be a part of recognizing the veterans; this means a lot to my family and I,” Patti Nowaczyk said. “It’s hard to explain unless it’s happened to you. I come from a pretty big military family. My dad and my father-in-law were in the army. I have three uncles that served in Vietnam. Veterans are very important to us.”
David Nowaczyk was a graduate of Lake Central High School after being raised in Dyer. He was very involved in sports, including baseball, while he was growing up. He started playing in tee-ball and continued to play the sport through the rest of his life. At Lake Central, he wrestled and played football for the Indians.
“My son was very protective over the girls of his family: me, his wife, his sister,” Patti said. “He had a wonderful sense of humor. He loved his sports. He was a very outdoors person and that’s how he wanted to raise his children.”
The Nowaczyk family hosts a Memorial Golf Outing in David’s honor each year. The second annual outing took place on June 14. The goal of the event is to raise funds to build a Fall Solider Memorial for all fallen soldiers in the area. In addition, a benefit concert featuring Nicole Jamrose to raise funds for the memorial will take place on Sept. 27 at Pick-Up Bar and Grill in Lynwood, Ill.
The Oilmen are honored to have U.S. Military All-Stars General Manager Karl Seiter on hand to throw out a third ceremonial first pitch. Seiter, known in baseball as “The Hammer,” served as an Army Ranger through five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a Purple Heart recipient and was wounded during his service to our country.
Hammond police officer and Desert Storm veteran Sean Garrison will belt out a rousing rendition of the National Anthem to round out the pregame ceremony. Following the game, the sky will light up with a postgame fireworks display.
The July 1 game is sure to be a special one as the Oilmen take the field in support of this great cause. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
“I think it takes a community to remember the veterans,” Sparber said. “There are approximately 37,000 veterans here in Lake County alone from World War II through our veterans coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. What we can do is bring awareness of what people in the community are doing.”
The Veterans Build Project is working to build a home for Mr. Danna Carter, a retired veteran and father of two boys. Carter joined the service in 1989 and served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in 1997. In the year 2000, Carter was declared disabled.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s “Veterans Build Project,” visit www.nwihabitat.org. For more information on the NWI Veterans Action Council, log-on to www.nwiveterans.com. To purchase tickets and help show your support for the “Veterans Build Project,” visit www.nwioilmen.com.