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Thousands of Athletic Directors Join Forces to Support Wounded Veterans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2020) – Some kids in the Kidder County School District in central North Dakota travel up to 50 miles each way to school; the district is larger than Rhode Island. Regardless of their commute, all students and faculty went the extra mile recently to support wounded veterans and their families through Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).

For a $1 donation, students could wear a hat to school on a designated day. 350 kids in grades pre-K to 12, with help from their teachers, raised more than $1,800 for wounded warriors.

“It’s our culture here,” said Ryan Larson, elementary school principal and activities director for the Kidder County School District. “Our kids realize the work our military members and their families do for us.”

The efforts in Steele, North Dakota were part of a larger campaign through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and its National Initiative and Assistance Network committee (NIAN). The NIAAA encouraged each of its 12,000+ members to donate $5 to support injured veterans.

“It was very rewarding for us. We really had fun with it,” said Fred Balsamo, Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors and Vice Chair of the NIAN committee.

The campaign ran throughout 2019 and raised more than $40,000. The NIAAA presented a check to WWP at the annual NIAAA conference in Maryland in December.

“I was humbled and pleased at the way our membership stepped up and donated to such a worthy organization,” said Joni Pabst, Executive Director, Arizona Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and Chair of the NIAN committee. “We need to model the behavior of benevolent giving to our coaches and young people.”

The campaign supported warriors like Army veteran Shane Parsons and his mother Cindy, who served as his caregiver for ten years. Shane experienced two cardiac arrests plus serious brain and leg injuries while serving in Iraq in 2006.

Cindy shared her and Shane’s stories with athletic directors in Connecticut and Ohio during the campaign.

“Many in each state stood up to teach our youth to never forget wounded warriors and their families’ sacrifices to our country,” Cindy said. “We are truly grateful!”

Discover ways you can give back to warriors and their caregivers.


Chris Obarski – Public Relations,, 904.570.0823.

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.


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