By Kim Constantinesco
A crack of the bat, a ball to the mitt, a slide into home. Of all the sounds, the most meaningful one on a late August afternoon was that of the national anthem.
Two teams, the PX3 Patriots and the Danny Dietz Frogmen, stepped onto the diamond for a charity softball game in Colorado Springs, Colo. to support combat veterans, and really, to back all of those who go to bat for our country.
Veterans with prosthetic legs and scars from violent burns and bombs took on former athletes and celebrities like Evan Oglesby, who once suited up for the Dallas Cowboys, and Chris Browning, who played “Morrison” in Terminator Salvation.
Of course a win would mean bragging rights, but what this game was all about was raising money for the PX3 Foundation, which empowers veterans with evidenced-based solutions that improve physical and mental health.
Like a Ninja
Tim “T.K.” Klund was stationed in Colorado Springs with the Air Force before becoming a director at the PX3 Foundation.
He and the PX3 Foundation are donating breathing orthotics to combat veterans to improve their overall health.
“It’s a bite regulator,” Klund said. “The U.S. Air Force Academy Human Performance Lab was able to prove that the PX3 Bite Regulator can increase the VO2 max in the athlete and in the warrior by substantially more than 5%. When people get more oxygen to the brain and body, they get better sleep, helps with overall recovery and it makes the body more efficient.”
With the money raised through the softball game, PX3 will be able to fit more than 50 combat veterans for bite regulators — a home run in anyone’s book.
The first PX3 Patriots Celebrity Softball Game was held in Houston in 2015, with Marcus Luttrell and the Lone Survivor Foundation.
The event was made free to the public in Colorado Springs as a way to give back to the military community, showcasing gratitude to its military men and women serving, as well as their families. It went so well that the PX3 Foundation planned two more games for 2016 — one in Colorado Springs and one in Dallas on October 29.
PX3 partnered with the Danny Dietz Memorial Fund for the Colorado Springs game. The organization, named after U.S. Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, who was killed in action in 2005, enriches the lives of young people through strenuous physical and mental training.
Dietz, a native of Colorado, was a member of SEAL Team 10, which was featured in the movie, Lone Survivor. He was the first SEAL killed during the team’s mission to capture a high-ranking Taliban leader.
“I don’t think anything else in life would have fit him,” his sister, Tiffany Dietz-Bitz said. “From a very young age, he made the decision he wanted to do something. First he thought he was going to be a ninja when he grew up. When he grew up and realized he couldn’t actually be a ninja for work, he chose the next best thing — being a Navy Seal.”
Back in the Game
Former Sergeant Justin Feagin spent six years in the Army, with two deployments to Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2010). During his final deployment, he was hit by a dismounted IED.
“I lost my left leg below my knee,” Feagin said. “I had shrapnel damage all over, I fractured several fingers on both hands, and I lost my hearing in my right ear.”
Feagin grew up playing sports, so his rehabilitation was focused on getting him “back out there.”
And the PX3 Patriots’ annual softball game has been a great testing ground.
“I get to come out and play for a team of like-minded veterans,” Feagin said. “It’s cool to have something like this to look forward to.
“I wear my PX3 daily when sleeping and working out, and for sure when I’m playing softball,” Feagin added. “It has made a tremendous difference in my life.”
Eric Morante, a retired Marine Corp. sergeant feels the same way. He served for three and a half years before a truck carrying 3,000 pounds of explosives detonated underneath a bridge he and his team were on just outside of Fallujah, Iraq in 2007.
With the bridge crumbling on top of them, Morante lost his leg, shattered his wrist and cheek bones, broke his jaw and his teeth, and suffered a scratched cornea. Multiple surgeries and years of rehabilitation have allowed him to start playing sports again.
In fact, Morante is a big-time boxer, who started a nonprofit called the National Amputee Boxing Association, which is the first in the U.S. allowed to promote amateur boxing for amputee athletes.
“I’m very grateful because we’re not being treated like the Vietnam vets, who have paved the way for us,” Morante said. “I’d love to get the public more involved with the guys that are coming back from overseas. I’ve been trying to showcase that even though we’re injured, we can still get out there and be part of the community and be accepted. We can still fight — fight for a cause.”
Freedom That’s Not Free
Former pro baseball player and current CEO of Athletes Brand Kyle Mauch flew in from Arizona to lace up his cleats for the cause. His grandfather was a WWII veteran on the U.S.S. Carolina.
“I really want anything to do with helping the veterans,” Mauch said. “Opportunities like this game is where it’s more personal. You see veterans face-to-face. You see that they’re actually sacrificing. Until you see the injuries that they have, there’s no way to relate or understand, so this is an opportunity to be part of something special.”
Former NFL player Evan Oglesby hopped on a flight from his home in Georgia to take part. He wore the PX3 Bite Regulator during his final years in the NFL, so he knows what the veterans are getting.
“I can tell you there is a noticeable difference when wearing your PX3 and when you aren’t wearing it.”
Because Oglesby believes in what the company is offering, he was willing to drop everything to make sure our country’s bravest are taken care of.
“You see these soldiers, putting their life on the line and they’re coming back minus something [a limb] that they went over there with,” Oglesby said. “You have people over here on our side, and they’re taking life for granted. I’m learning a lot from these guys and how they overcome adversity.”
That’s the thing. Many U.S. citizens don’t understand what goes into making country “free.”
“So many times, people take for granted the luxuries we have in life,” Dietz-Bitz said. “We forget about those who are out there putting their life on the line and sacrificing so that we can continue to have the life that we do. We need to make people aware that the fight is still going on out there.”
“I believe we as a community need to let the military know that they’re appreciated,” Tiffany and Danny Dietz’s mother, Cindy, added. “Freedom is not free. There is someone out there every day paying the price.”
And that’s the truth.
To learn more about the PX3 bite regulator, visit www.px3.com for more information on the product.