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10/8/2012 6:01:00 AM
Kingman youngster, an amputee, is batboy for a special team
Courtesy
Garrett Newberry, 12, poses last year in Las Vegas with members of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team as well as several of their opponents.
Courtesy
Garrett Newberry, 12, poses last year in Las Vegas with members of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team as well as several of their opponents.
You’re Invited
Come see Garrett and the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team for yourself.

At 8 p.m. Friday, the Wounded Warriors will take on the PoliceSoftball.com team at the Big League Dreams Park, 3151 E. Washington Ave., in Las Vegas.

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, the Wounded Warriors will play two games - one against Sun City and one against Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. This takes place at the Pinnacle Community Center Ball Field, 2215 Thomas Ryan Blvd., in Las Vegas.

Call Van Sleet at (802) 777-7232 for more information.


Ahron Sherman
Miner Staff Reporter


Some kids miss the bus to school. Some kids miss too many homework assignments. Some kids miss parents who aren't around. Twelve-year-old Garrett Newberry is missing his right leg.

It's been four years since Garrett had his right leg amputated below the knee after the UTV he was riding rolled over and crushed it. Garrett, who's as active as kids come, didn't let the injury stop him from doing what he loves: competing in sports, hunting with his family and riding BMX bikes, dirt bikes and ATVs.

Garrett gets his second opportunity to be the batboy for the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team on Friday and Saturday, when the team made up of soldiers and Marines who lost limbs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, comes to Las Vegas to kick off a couple softball tournaments.

"I had so much fun last year," Garrett said. "It was cool because I've never been on a team like that."

Though the teams he's been on over the year have been great and supportive, there are times when people expect him to be limited with what he can do on the field. That's not the case with the Wounded Warriors team, which is full of young, athletic military veterans who don't accept their perceived limitations.

Garrett plays first base and left field, and made the Kingman Little League South All-Star team the last two years. Though he loves baseball and dreams of one day playing in the major leagues, it's not his favorite sport because it only has one season a year.

Garrett's thirst for competition and activity goes year-round. His newest love is BMX racing.

Lori Newberry, Garrett's mother, said going to the Wounded Warriors game and watching Garrett interact with all the amputee veterans was incredibly emotional.

"For the first time since the accident, he was surrounded by people just like him," Newberry said. "It was overwhelming."

Garrett's immediate family all attended the event, taking hundreds of pictures as they choked back their emotions.

At the end of one of the team's games, Garrett got to go up to bat. He was nervous, but he got a hit, knocked in some runs and made it to first base, said Pat Mertens, Garrett's grandmother.

He'll get more chances to bat on Friday and Saturday, said David Van Sleet, the team's founder and head coach.

"He's an athletic young boy," Van Sleet said.

Van Sleet created the team, which travels three weekends a month to play multiple exhibition and celebrity games, in March 2011. Since its inception, the team has visited 37 cities, 17 states and played more than 60 games.

"We only play against able-bodied teams," he said. "We want to show that even though you've lost a limb, you can still live your life the way you want to."

The team is made up of 14 guys from all over the country. Half of them served in the Army and the other half served in the Marines, and half of them were wounded in Iraq and the other half were wounded in Afghanistan.

Van Sleet is not an amputee, but he is a U.S. Army veteran. He worked in prosthetics for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 32 years on both the clinical and administrative side. He also played and coached softball for just as long.

"I came to the point in my career where it was time to give something back," he said. "I saw what was coming back from the wars. These (amputees) were young and athletic, but competitive sports were missing from their lives."

So he started the team with the backing of the Department of Justice, the VA and Össur, a company that makes prosthetics.

Van Sleet tries to find children who've lost limbs near the cities the team plays and offers them a spot on the team as batboy or batgirl. They get the uniforms, the hats and participate in all the team activities. That's how Garrett got the gig.

"They inspire us as much as we inspire them," he said.

Just because Garrett loves to compete and remain active, don't for one second think it's easy for him.

"It gets hard," Garrett said. His leg gets sore and when he sweats, the fitting of his prosthetic loosens, making it hard to operate. "I get mad sometimes."

But instead of dwelling on his anger, Garrett turns it into motivation to work hard and play harder.

"He is just amazing," Mertens said. "Nothing is going to stop him in life."

Garrett isn't too concerned about his future right now, though.

"I'm just living in the moment," he said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Justin Cox

Garret is my friend, and I think he is a good friend, he is verry good at sports,he gets all of his work done and plays sports! I feel bad about his leg and if I could do something about it I would.

Way to go. Hope you can do it again!


Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Article comment by: amaryllis smith

garrett, reading your story-i just want to say,way to go! i will remember you in prayer knowing you are a great kid with a great outlook and you will inspire others! god's blessings be on you! and to van sleet and all the team members thank you for what you have done for our country and young kids like garrett!

Posted: Monday, October 8, 2012
Article comment by: dennis jones

way to go garrett keep having fun



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