The first game of his youth football season is just around the corner, but Blake Travelstead, 11, is looking forward to playing lacrosse this weekend.
Travelstead and many of his Maryland-based Crabs Lacrosse club teammates are participating in the Shootout for Soldiers, a two-day event that serves mainly as a fund-raiser benefiting American veterans.
This weekend’s Baltimore Shootout on Tierney Field at USA Lacrosse headquarters begins at 6 p.m. Friday and concludes on Saturday evening.
“I love the cause, and the jerseys are pretty cool too,” Travelstead said.
Launched in 2012, the Shootout for Soldiers format calls for a series of one-hour games, with a running score kept between the sides, designated this year as the Brave vs. Free. Participating teams – men’s and women’s squads of all ages -- play in a pre-determined one-hour slot during the event.
● See this year’s schedule here.
In addition to their registration fee, most participants also try to raise additional funds through donations. The official event website lists the top fundraisers, with many setting and reaching an admirable goal of $500.
One 11-year-old participant, however, outdistances all the others on the donations leaderboard. Travelstead set a lofty goal of raising $5,000 in donations this year, and one day before the event begins, he is just $50 shy of reaching that mark.
“What he has done is incredible,” said Mike Bennett, this year’s Baltimore Shootout coordinator. “These proceeds are granted to locally-based, veteran-oriented charities in our community in order to support our military veterans who disproportionately struggle with homelessness, mental health, substance abuse, and suicide.”
Travelstead, who also played in last year’s Baltimore Shootout and has a grandfather who was in the Armed Services, decided he wanted to aim high in 2023. He says he had some parental help in reaching his fundraising goal, but he also did a lot of the legwork.
“My dad has a lot of friends, but I personally know almost every person who donated,” said Travelstead, who utilized a comprehensive strategy of emails, phone calls, and social media.
“I’m happy to do this for veterans and I told a lot of people what this is all about,” he said.
Travelstead and his friends take the field at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Other highlights on the schedule include Parkville Adaptive Lacrosse at 5 p.m. Saturday, and the annual military game pitting Baltimore-area veterans against active duty members at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The event is free and open to the public.
“We’ve exceeded last year’s team registrations and fundraising goals,” Bennett said. “It’s really good to see the energy back at the Baltimore event as this is where it all started.”
This week’s stop at USA Lacrosse headquarters is the fifth of seven Shootout events in 2023. Upcoming events in Atlanta (Sep 16-17) and North Carolina (Nov 10) round out this year’s schedule.