O'Connell Soccer Team Helps Wounded Warriors
For the second year in a row, the Bishop O’Connell boys soccer team participated in a holiday service project through Wreaths Across America, raising money to lay Christmas wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery. The team raised enough money to lay 554 wreaths and donate $3,000 to four disabled veterans through the Wounded Warriors Project.
This spring, the team has been working with representatives of the Wounded Warrior Project who have identified four service members as the beneficiaries of the soccer team’s efforts. On April 29, members of the soccer team met with the first of four recipients, U.S. Army Pfc. Derek McConnell.
The team learned that McConnell grew up in New Jersey and enlisted in the U.S. Army roughly two years ago. While on patrol in Afghanistan, he attempted to rescue another soldier and stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in several injuries that led to the amputation of both legs. McConnell was treated in Afghanistan before being transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then eventually to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Members of the boys soccer team met McConnell and his fiancee and were able to hear more about his long-term care and recovery needs. His single mother has sacrificed her job and her comforts of home to be near her son and help in his rehabilitation.
McConnell and his family were touched by the efforts of the soccer team. “When I was your age, I never thought about doing something like this,” he said.
For the boys on the O’Connell soccer team, meeting McConnell validates their decision to make this project an annual event. “We will be presenting checks to three other Wounded Warriors this month,” said Connor. “It makes us push ourselves each year to raise even more money for this important cause.”
To find out more about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.