KINGSTON — Dodgeball can ignite feelings of nostalgia and competitiveness. The rules are simple, and the components of luck and tactic helps equalize the playing field so that a variety of athletes can succeed.
That’s why Patrick Yurista, the 109th National Guard Field Artillery C Battery sergeant, thought a double-elimination dodgeball tournament at the Kingston Armory was the perfect way to bring the community together to help raise money for a hero in need.
Retired Marine and Kingston American Legion Commander Rich Pries was diagnosed with throat cancer and requires multiple surgeries. The Vietnam War veteran is known for his photography, love of family and friends, loyalty, humor, and avid love of the outdoors. He currently is recovering from having his larynx removed.
“He’s a local vet, he’s dedicated his entire life to serving, whether it was his country or his community,” Yurista said. “He’s one of those guys who would do anything for you, give you the shirt off his back. Being such a role model in the community, in a time of need for him and his family, we decided we needed to step up and take a lesson out of his book to give back.”
“He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” Yurista added. “Always there to help, whether it’s a National Guardsman, a vet that’s retired, he’s always there to lend a helping hand. For us to give him this opportunity, it was pretty much a no-brainer.”
Sgt. First Class Kevin Clocker, also of the C Battery, discussed the inspiration for a dodgeball tournament to help pay for Pries’ medical bills. The amount raised Sunday was not announced.
“It’s an opportunity to bring a lot of people together. It helps them help someone who’s always there for everyone else. Being in the National Guard, we’re always here for the citizens first. Just like Rich Pries, he’s always there for everyone. The more community support you get, the better the events like this are. You get more out of it.”
Patrick Chocallo, a drilling National Guardsman, and the DropTestMedia.com team — a group of podcasters and knife makers — screen-printed hundreds of T-shirts for the teams in the tournament.
“It’s dodgeball. Everybody loves dodgeball. It’s for a great cause; it’s a great way to get community members out,” Chocallo said.