June 14, 2013

Second Annual Shootout for Soldiers Weathers the Storm

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Photo Gallery

Shootout for Soldiers founder Tyler Steinhardt (right), with event volunteer Jay Dyer (left) and Sgt. Ryan Major (center) after closing ceremonies of the second annual charity event Friday morning. A 24-hour lacrosse game, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, was played to completion despite rounds of bad weather.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

BALTIMORE — Tyler Steinhardt wore the look of guy who had just organized and oversaw 24 straight hours of lacrosse, all in the name of charity.

"I'm sorry," said the Shootout for Soldiers founder after doing an interview when the second annual event wrapped up at 9 a.m. Friday at McDonogh School in Baltimore County. "I'm pretty emotional right now."

A few minutes earlier, he presented a check for $126,000 to a representative of the Wounded Warrior Project, posed for pictures and delivered a short speech to cap the day-long marathon of lacrosse that began Thursday morning and was interrupted twice by thunderstorms, but not ended; play moved inside to the McDonogh gym both times.

In the end, Team Stars beat Team Stripes, 349-336, in what could be described as a high-scoring affair.

Steinhardt said there were 2,000 players and thousands of spectators at McDonogh during the course of the 24 hours, with the largest number showing up, strangely enough, early Friday morning between 1 and 3 a.m. More than 100 veterans came to the event, with 30 playing in a veterans game at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was also among those to stop by — he did it in daylight Thursday afternoon, long before a 4 a.m. hot dog-eating contest got some participants through the night.

In two years, Shootout for Soldiers has raised $250,000 for the WWP, which provides programs and services to severely injured service members during their transition from active duty to civilian life.

Steinhardt, a 2012 Boys' Latin (Md.) graduate who recently completed his freshman year at American University, credited a core group of volunteers for making the event a success, again. The event started last year when Steinhardt originally set what he thought was the lofty goal of raising $10,000. It's become something bigger.

"This 24 hours was not the way we envisioned it or planned it," Steinhardt said to a small crowd Friday morning. "Last year, we had full sun. This year we had a rain and lightning. We went indoors and outdoors twice. The incredible thing is that we went into the indoor facility, got it running, and we still managed to get by. I actually think it was more fun indoors sometimes than outdoors.

"I know I should have a mic and I should be more formal in my presentation of this, but to be truthful, this is special because its organized by a group of volunteers, powered by a group of volunteers, and is for a cause that we all really support."

The event kicked off Thursday morning, with appearances by Team USA and Furman coach Richie Meade, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., MLL stars Paul Rabil and Brendan Mundorf, and Sgt. Ryan Major, a 2003 Towson (Md.) High graduate who lost both legs and several fingers to an IED while serving in Iraq in 2006.

The event, at its start, moved quickly inside with a fast-approaching thunderstorm bearing down on the area, then moved back outdoors to the McDonogh turf field only to be sent back in later in the day with another round of storms.

Play continued outside through the night and ended Friday morning, with raffle items being distributed and Steinhardt presenting a giant check to the WWP.

"The event was more special this year, not because of the amount we raised, but because we had over 150 veterans who came out, 30 of which played in a veterans game to start the event," Steinhardt said. "It was pretty special to see the combination of the veterans and the community. I'm speechless. You don't envision going through some hurdles last-minute like that, and to pull of an event that great is special."

Major was back Friday morning as well. At last year's Shootout for Soldiers, Major took his first steps in public using prosthetics since being injured in Iraq.

"To come back here again and see how much it's grown and increased in size is phenomenal," Major said. "Last year was a small goal, but it turned into something huge and it's spreading right now. I'm very happy and honored that Tyler was able to do this, start this up and continue to help other soldiers like me."

As for the stormy weather and threatening skies that finally ended a few minutes after the final horn blew on the 24-hour lacrosse game, Major said: "It's all right. Adapt and overcome."

For more from Shootout for Soldiers and how the game unfolded over 24 hours, check out the event's official Twitter feed.

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