On Sept. 30, Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche entertained 16 wounded warriors and their families on the U.S.S. Sequoia Presidential Yacht in Washington, D.C. The dinner reception and evening was conceived in coordination with the USO and the USO of Metropolitan Washington to honor the sacrifices made by the troops and their families.
Blatche and his Andray Blatche Foundation presented a $10,000 check to the USO’s Operation Enduring Care for use in the construction of a game room that is planned for the Wounded Warrior and Family Center currently being built in Ft. Belvoir, Va.
Blatche began his foundation in 2009 and lives by its motto of “providing an assist whenever and wherever we can.” Although the focus of Blatche’s foundation is primarily children, Andray has extended and expanded his sizeable charitable reach to the wounded warrior and family centers because he recognizes the need for sanctuaries from the stresses and hardships of war not only for our wounded troops but for their families and children as well.
“Professional athletes, although very good at what we do, are not heroes,” Blatche said. “We don’t ‘go into battle’; we compete in sports. Our military fights in real battles, laying their lives on the line to protect us, our families, and our friends — giving all of us the chance to live long and happy lives. Our military warriors are America’s heroes. The families who watch them deploy — knowing they will be in harm’s way — are heroes.”
Blatche posed for pictures and presented each serviceman and woman with a special commemorative autographed basketball and made lifelong fans of the event’s attendees.
“You hear so many bad things about athletes, but many of them, like Andray, are doing great things,” said 14-year Army veteran Rendell Long, a guest at the reception who recently has recovered from a knee injury. “It can be hard to transition from being deployed to returning home. Most soldiers have a lot to deal with, reconnecting with family and having to rehabilitate from a serious injury. [Operation Enduring Care] allows us a chance to heal mentally and physically.” – Christian Pelusi