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Atwater, Minn., event to honor 'Wounded Warriors'

Cara Lang, assistant coach for the U.S. Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Team, left, and Paul White of Litchfield are teaming up to raise funds for the Wounded Warriors Project that supports injured servicemen and women. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

LITCHFIELD — Two of his brothers served in the military.

His eldest brother died last January.

He was a victim of his Agent Orange exposure while serving in Vietnam, Paul White said.

“Finally caught up to him,’’ White said. He remembers, too, how his brothers and others who served in Vietnam were not always accorded the honor or respect they deserved.

All reasons enough to explain why White is teaming up with Cara Lang, assistant coach of the U.S. Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Team, to host a “Tournament of Duty 2013” fundraiser on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project.

The event, scheduled June 29, will feature a golf tournament at Island Pine Golf Course in Atwater, a volleyball tournament at the adjacent city park and a volleyball game featuring members of the U.S. Paralympic Sitting Volleyball team.

White, of Litchfield, is a financial consultant for Thrivent Financial. Lang is a recruiter for Thrivent Financial and also spends her time in Oklahoma helping coach the team that returned from London last summer with a silver medal.

“They have amazing stories,’’ said Lang of her athletes. She calls the opportunity to coach the athletes both inspiring and a privilege.

 She pointed out the players don’t see themselves as being any different. One athlete told her: “We all have our own struggles. All have our own disabilities. Ours are just visible.’’

She anticipates team members Katie Holloway, Heather Erickson, Nichole Millage, Kari Miller and new addition Alexis Schifflet will play during the Tournament of Duty in Atwater.

Kari Miller, a veteran of the Iraq war, lost both of her legs when she struck by a drunk driver after she returned home. Lang said she told the paramedic extracting her from the wreckage of her vehicle: “If you have to cut off my legs I’ll forgive you, just get me out of here.’’

The stories of all the Paralympic athletes are inspiring, but so too is White’s own determination to make the event possible. A year ago, he was named Thrivent’s volunteer of the year for the central district of the nation.

The honor for his work with groups ranging from Habitat for Humanity and his church brought with it a $25,000 award for the charity of his choice. He selected the Wounded Warrior Project. It provides ongoing support to veterans who have been injured in service.

In the process, White said, he learned just how important the Wounded Warrior Project is for those who have had their lives permanently changed. Wars may end, but society should never forget those who served, he explained. “They will suffer with those injuries for the rest of their lives, their needs will be ongoing,’’ he said.

To learn more about the event, or participate in the golf or volleyball tournaments, visit

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335