Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wounded Marines to Gather on Field Before Tonight's First Pitch

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM


Last night's Cards game was a lesson in humility. Perhaps the bullpen can take notes on how to make a comeback during tonight's pregame ceremony, which honors a few local Marines who've battled back from war injuries that led to amputation and paralysis. The ceremony is part of the Marine Week festivities in the city.

The first pitch will be tossed by Corporal Justin McCloud, featured in the Community section of today's Post-Dispatch. McCloud, from Cedar Hlll, lost three of his limbs after stepping on an Improvised Explosive Device during his third tour in Afghanistan; he's now home on extended leave.

He will be joined on the field by Corporal Todd Nicely, a native of Arnold and one of only three quadruple amputees to survive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Lance Corporal Tyler Huffman, who, despite being paralyzed below the waist, will showcase his driving skills to fans with a new, specially adapted Ford F-150. Lance Corporal Mark Meirink, a single-amputee, and General James T. Conway -- both Missouri natives -- will also participate in the ceremony, which begins at 6:35 p.m.

The ceremony is being sponsored by the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial assistance and quality-of-life solutions for U.S. military veterans who become injured. The fund partially paid for Huffman's specially adapted truck.

Huffman is paralyzed below the waist and is able to operate the truck simply by using buttons attached to the steering wheel. The truck uses a retractable hydrolic boom to elevate Huffman into the driver's seat and store his wheelchair in its bed.

On Memorial Day, actor, Illinois native Gary Sinise held a concert at the Family Arena in St. Charles to benefit Nicely, in a collaboration with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation in New York to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The foundation plans to build a smart house for Nicely in the not-too-distant future.

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