Four basketball legends from the region joined Ocean City Home Bank President Steve Brady on Thursday to encourage participation in the fourth annual Walk for the Wounded on Ocean City Boardwalk.
St. Joseph's University men's basketball coach Phil Martelli, Temple University coach Fran Dunphy, former Villanova coach and CBS commentator Steve Lappas, and former Boston Celtics player and coach Chris Ford gathered outside the Ocean City Fire Department on Aug. 9 to help promote an event that benefits wounded soldiers and their families.
The three-mile Walk for the Wounded is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, on the Ocean City Boardwalk. Participants are encouraged to recruit a team of friends, family or coworkers and to raise money for Operation First Response, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to provide money and services to wounded veterans.
"We're truly honoring America's heroes," Martelli said. "We don't say thank you enough."
Martelli, who was a roommate of Brady's at Widener University, talked about the importance of seeing the Walk for the Wounded continue to grow.
"We need to fill that Boardwalk," he said.
For the first time this year, the Ocean City Fire Department is working with the event organizers to promote the walk.
Capt. Steve Constantino talked about the "lasting impression" last year's event made on the firefighters who completed the walk in gear. He noted the department's own Freedom Sticker fundraiser, and he introduced Ocean City firefighter Wyatt Clevenger, a Marine sniper who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Clevenger said he has seen friends die and face injury, and he described the struggles they face when they return home.
"I've been through it. I know what it's like," Clevenger said. "We need to get them money and get them money now."
Corporal James Kalitz, a Marine who served from 2001 to 2005, was on hand Thursday to describe first-hand the work of Operation First Response.
Kalitz had quit a full-time job back after his discharge from the Marines as he prepared to go back overseas for a private job. But a kidney failure related to his service overseas caused a seizure, and Kalitz was left with no job.
Operation First Response helped him find care and return to school full-time.
"Thank you," Kalitz told everybody in attendance.