Hooping for soldiers 


Although football season is beginning everywhere else, basketball will rule the scene at Wrightsville Beach Park Saturday, Sept. 9, for a three-man team basketball tournament benefitting Step Up For Soldiers.

Sponsored by Fox Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Army, the tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 9, with a full day of basketball slated.

Step Up For Soldiers president and founder Thomas Russell said the tournament would raise vital funds for the all-volunteer organization and help to spread the word about its cause.

“It is a good way for us to get out there and meet new people,” Russell said. “If you are not out with the people that can help you, your charity struggles.”

The nonprofit organization Step Up For Soldiers was founded by Russell in 2004, and aims to provide disabled veterans who experienced loss of limb and mobility issues with the resources necessary to adjust to a post-war environment.

One local U.S. National Guard unit the organization has worked extensively with is the 1-120th Combined Arms Battalion, which has been deployed twice since 2004 and has lost eight members in combat.

Russell said the unit would be deployed to Jordan in September and the organization plans to again assist the soldiers’ families while they are away.

So far Step Up For Soldiers has completed around 10 home renovations needed for soldiers returning stateside with mobility issues.

“A lot of times they will still be in the service but rehabbing at home instead of taking up hospital space,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t have the money for things like handles for the bathroom, widening doorways or whatever they need, so locally we have been the go-to organization.”

The organization’s largest project is building the Kramer House south of Monkey Junction, which will be used to house veterans and their families during transitional periods. The house is named after Ed Kramer, a local firefighter who is one of the 1-120th soldiers killed in action.

With permits approved and concrete foundation poured, Russell said a large portion of the funds raised during the basketball tournament would be used for the construction of the house.

“Once completed, it will be used by a veteran who is married and goes to school full time, and they can live there until the veteran graduates,” Russell said. “Then they will move out and we will put someone else new in there.”

To register for the three-man team basketball tournament, visit www.capefeardailydeals.revrocket.us

Registration closes Friday, Aug. 29.

To learn more about Step Up For Soldiers, visit

email cole@luminanews.com 


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