Thanksgiving lacrosse tourney honors wounded servicemen

United States Army Sergeant (Ret) Salvatore Anselmo and United States Army Corporal (Ret) Vincent Mannion-Brodeur have been named the honorees and beneficiaries for this years’ 11th annual Sticks For Soldiers Thanksgiving Charity Lacrosse Tournament, hosted by the Fairfield Ludlowe High School boy’s lacrosse program on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 9 a.m., at Fairfield Ludlowe High School’s Taft Stadium, 785 Unquowa Road, Fairfield. Sergeant Anselmo and Corporal Brodeur both sustained life-changing injuries from combat in April 2004 and March 2007 respectively.

Sticks for Soldiers is a nonprofit charity with its mission to raise money to support future needs of severely-wounded soldiers, and promote youth awareness of military service through this statewide event. In 10 years, the tournament, which is held every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, has raised more than $575,000 through team entry fees, silent auction, merchandise, and corporate and private donations. This year, more than 900 boys and girls from 60 Connecticut high school teams are expected to participate and play 100 games during the one-day event. Game officials from around the state of Connecticut will donate their time as well as many volunteers from Fairfield Ludlowe High School and the surrounding communities. The goal this year is to raise $125,000, which will directly benefit these, and other, severely wounded honorees.

2016 11th annual honorees

United States Army Sergeant Salvatore Anselmo Jr.

U.S. Army Sergeant Salvatore Anselmo Jr. was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 12, 2001 following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Upon his completion of One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Knox, Ky. in July 2002, SGT Anselmo was sent to Ft Hood, Texas and was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Troop as a tank crewman. After receiving additional training in dismounted cavalry scout operations and combined arms urban warfare, he deployed to Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq as a Cavalry Scout where SGT Anselmo served as the gunner on the company commander’s Humvee.

On April 4th 2004, SGT Anselmo was wounded when roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and he was ejected from the vehicle during combat operations on the outskirts of Sadr City. During his deployment, SGT Anselmo was also wounded by shrapnel in his left knee from a 62mm mortar round in one of the daily mortar attacks on his position that ultimately saw 2,600 mortar rounds impact within his unit’s perimeter. SGT Anselmo also received wounds from small arms fire, unexploded ordinance and other roadside bombs during his deployment. Due to his wounds and severe, combat related PTSD, SGT Anselmo was medically retired. Unable to reenter the workforce upon his retirement due to his wounds, SGT Anselmo now tries to work with recently discharged combat veterans in need of local resources. SGT Anselmo currently resides in Rochester, NY with his 2 daughters who are now ages 11 and 12.

United States Army Corporal Vincent Mannion-Brodeur

U.S. Army Corporal (R) Vincent Mannion-Brodeur was raised in West Roxbury, Mass. and Hyannis, Mass. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 2006. After graduating from Infantry and Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA in December of 2006, CPL Manning was ultimately assigned to B Co., 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Kuwait in early Feb 2007 before arriving in Iraq a week later.

While on a patrol in Tikrit, Iraq on March 11, 2007, Vincent’s team moved to clear a small building. Upon opening the door, an explosive device was detonated remotely using a cell phone. The explosion instantly killed CPL Brodeur’s squad leader, SGT Dan Woodcock, and severely wounded Vincent who was positioned only four feet to his right. Vincent’s wounds included catastrophic head trauma, a nearly severed left arm and his upper torso was riddled with bomb fragments.

CPL Brodeur remained in a coma for more than a year while enduring multiple surgeries to reattach his left arm, remove a portion of his brain, remove various blood clots within his brain and replace his cranium with synthetic material. Thanks to the tireless efforts of his parents, Jeff and Maura, Vincent became the first active-duty serviceman to get private care on the East Coast when he was moved to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Mass. As a direct result of his wounds, CPL Brodeur has undergone 43 surgeries in 24 different hospitals and has set the bar to a new level for severe TBI. He continues to receive treatment in several hospitals each year. Vincent currently lives with his mother, Maura, a U.S. Navy veteran and his father, Jeff, a U.S. Army veteran who together are his caretakers.

Sticks For Soldiers leadership

Jeff Casucci, president of Sticks for Soldiers and tournament chairman said of this year’s event, “We are proud to have such heroes as Sal and Vincent as our honorees this year. We cannot thank them enough for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our community, our country and the freedoms we all enjoy. They serve as shining examples of the selfless dedication our service men and women exhibit every day across the world. We are honored by their presence at the Sticks For Soldiers event and hope to raise awareness of the sacrifices they have made. There is no better time than Thanksgiving weekend to thank our military personnel for their service.”

Additional honoree/beneficiaries may be named at a later time.

Tournament details

Team sign-in begins at 8 a.m. with first games at 9 a.m. At Ludlowe’s Taft Stadium, there will be a mid-day ceremony complete with a military honor guard to introduce and recognize the honorees. Participating high schools include: Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, Fairfield Prep, Staples, Greenwich, Ridgefield, Darien, Glastonbury, New Milford, Hopkins and many more. Games will be played at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, Roger Ludlowe Middle School, Tomlinson Middle School, Sturges Park, Wakeman Boys and Girls Club in Southport.

All are welcome to attend and admission is free. Corporate and private donations are greatly appreciated. Donations will be accepted on site at the event and may also be made through the Click&Pledge section of our homepage (found at sticksforsoldiers.org) or mailed to “Sticks for Soldiers, Inc.,” PO Box 475, Fairfield, Conn. 06824. Additionally, there will also be various great items will be available for Silent Auction, and commemorative T-shirts will be on sale. For more information, honoree profiles, tournament schedules, location and history, visit sticksforsoldiers.org.

About Sticks for Soldiers

Sticks for Soldiers is a non-profit high school charity which hosts a lacrosse tournament held in Fairfield to raise money for severely-wounded military personnel. Held on Thanksgiving Saturday, it is sponsored by the Fairfield Ludlowe High School lacrosse team. The mission of the tournament is to provide support and give thanks to the service men and women who put their lives on the line and sacrificed for our country, while raising awareness among high school athletes to the sacrifices being made by people just a few years older than they are. Through their play and fund-raising participation, the athletes demonstrate their tangible thanks and support. Originating in 2006, the idea came from long-time lacrosse advocate Mike Voucas along with support from current Fairfield Ludlowe Head Coach Chris Parisi and a number of dedicated volunteers. The tournament and related fund-raising efforts has now raised more than $575,000 in 10 years.

Sticks for Soldiers, Inc. is recognized by the IRS as a 501c3 non-profit charity. FEIN 46-0962202. For more information go to sticksforsoldiers.org.

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