The children of athletes attending the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games in Tampa this summer will have a special souvenir to take home with them thanks to a local group. Led by FishHawk resident Melissa Matos, members of the Greater Tampa Bay chapter of The Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. are putting together sports packs for the approximately 400 children with parents participating in the games and Matos is looking for residents who can crochet to help her hand make manatees to add to each pack.
During the DoD Warrior Games, approximately 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command, in addition to athletes from the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defense Force, Canadian Armed Forces, Armed Forces of the Netherlands and the Danish Armed Forces, will compete in 14 sports including archery, cycling, indoor rowing, wheelchair tennis, rugby and basketball. The goal of the games is to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports.
Matos and her group wanted to find a way to support the athletes and their families and came up with the idea for the bags, which will contain a variety of items from food and drink to toys to keep the children entertained during downtime with a theme of Everything Florida. Matos and other group members are working hard to crochet the manatees as a special souvenir, but need help to reach their goal.
Matos, whose son, Andrew, serves in the Army, became involved in the project through her Blue Star Mothers of America group. The women, all mothers of children who are or have honorably served in the military, support service members and their children.
“This is important to me because I enjoy giving back to my community and supporting our military and their families,” said Matos, who has lived in FishHawk since 2000.
The games will take place throughout the area, with events as close as Alafia State Park, from Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 30.
Anyone interested in helping with the crochet project should contact Matos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Financial donations can be mailed to c/o Margaret Simmons, Treasurer, 12932 93rd Ave. N., Seminole, FL 33776.