By Catherine Galiato
OCEAN COUNTY — Local veterans nonprofit group Ma Deuce Deuce has launched a program to give veterans a night out at the ballpark.
As a way to foster camaraderie and counter the isolation many veterans feel, Ma Deuce Deuce (Ma22) is seeking veterans who might enjoy some time out at First Energy Park in Lakewood to catch home games of the Blue Claws.
“Making connections and fostering a sense of community is what we are all about,” said President and co-founder, Dennis Addesso of Toms River. “So many veterans feel isolated and have no outlet and are grappling with PTSD and other issues. We feel a night at the park can break the ice and allow us to gauge where we can help them, in a setting that they can enjoy some family entertainment.”
The cost of the game seats was underwritten by the generous sponsorship of local businesses:
The Serenity Cafe, Toms River
MJM Tree Service & Maintenance, Forked River
Gerard J. Petrocelli & Gillen Realty Inc., Toms River
Kimberly Barfuss, Brick
“We have been overwhelmed with the support our community has provided in the past and the hits just keep coming.” said Tom Kiselow, another founding member of MA22 and its Chief Operating Officer, said. “Anything that can be used to get a veteran out of the house and on a path to recovery and restoration is what we are all about.”
Last year Ma22 was instrumental in raising funds for several other non-profits including Operation Restored Warrior (ORW), a free 5-day faith-based program a majority of the team are alumni to. Ma22 was also co-hosts for Operation: Ruck It with local veteran nonprofit Warhorse SCUBA. The event consisted the two organizations along with 185 other participants and 35 volunteers rucking (military term for hiking) 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) down the Jersey shore. Among the other events Ma22 hosted was a benefit for a local veteran’s family, Gary Bell of Brick.
“We’ve picked up a lot of steam since the Gary Bell Irons & BBQ event and haven’t slowed down since” Addesso added. Gary Bell was a Marine Purple Heart recipient from Brick, NJ who succumbed to the perils of PTSD years after his tours in Iraq. The event was a huge success creating a trust fund for Gary’s sons, Riley and Parker, who were 11 and 7 at the time of his passing. “Ma22 was a blessing to our family in a time where it was really needed,” said Rande (Bell) Martinez, sister to Gary. “They are truly a group that our community and our veterans need.”
Ma22 is an Ocean County based 501(c)3 charity that focuses on veterans advocacy and creating raising awareness of the “22 daily Veteran suicides” epidemic as well as providing veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) a diversity of restorative and therapeutic programs/non-profit organizations at no cost to the veteran.
For more information or to contact the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 732-684-1314 or visit www.facebook.com/MaDeuceDeuce/. A web page is currently under construction with expectations for launch in the next few weeks.
PHOTO CAPTION: Ma Deuce Deuce President Dennis Addesso, at left, welcomes two fellow veterans to enjoy seats at First Energy Park for a recent Blue Claws minor league baseball game, as part of a night out the nonprofit provides. Photo credit: Ma Deuce Deuce.