By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
PRYOR, Oklahoma -- Kids in Pryor are getting their kicks out of honoring our servicemen and women.
The Mayes County Soccer Association launched an effort Saturday to remember the victims of 9/11, while helping Marines currently serving in Afghanistan.
Amid the hustle and bustle of kids playing soccer, was the quiet and serenity of a small garden with a big mission. It is just outside of the Mayes County Soccer Association's complex.
It's there to honor veterans and teach everyone who enters the fields about the meaning of service.
"It teaches the kids to honor somebody that's served their country," said Tim Lawson, Mayes County Soccer Association.
Lawson helped organize this weekend's special event to honor veterans and remember 9/11, all while having fun on the pitch.
"So all these kids out here they see that, they know that, they've been talked to about it from their coaches. I think it's just something important to teach a kid," said Lawson.
It's more than just a soccer tournament, or even a tribute to the victims of 9/11. It's also the kickoff of Soccer for Soldiers, a campaign to collect soccer equipment to be donated to our fighting men and women in the Middle East.
"Anything... we're looking for balls, shirts, cleats, shin guards, socks, old uniforms, I mean anything anybody has," said Lawson.
The equipment will be used by a group of Marines in Afghanistan to reach out to local residents, as well as help the Marines stay busy when off duty.
"While you're in theater, it's great to get stuff from home," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Newton, U.S. Air Force.
Newton knows what it's like to be far from home. He's spending this weekend watching family play soccer, but he recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says care packages, especially something unique like soccer equipment, help replace the bad stress with good stress.
"The good stressors is what keeps the fight alive and it gives you a sense of hope that someday you'll be returning home," Newton said.
That's what it's all about, kids having fun, our veterans being remembered and Oklahomans reaching out to those who put their lives on the line.
Soccer equipment can be donated at Roberts Auto Center in Pryor or through the Oklahoma Soccer Association.