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Military families watch, play in, FanFest T-ball game

Second youth event of its kind one of many affiliated programs for honoring service

NEW YORK -- Lt. Cmdr. Brian McSorley, an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard station in Staten Island, knows firsthand the amount of sacrifice it takes to be a military parent. While he knows there is always a possibility of missing important milestones, Little League games and school recitals, he also acknowledges and appreciates the sacrifices made by the other members of his family.

Yet for one hour Saturday, courtesy of Bank of America, United Service Organizations (USO) and Major League Baseball, McSorley did not need to worry about any of that. Instead, he watched as his son, Jack, participated in a youth T-ball game with several other children from military families as part of T-Mobile All-Star FanFest.

Bank of America, the official bank of Major League Baseball, has long made it a priority to work closely with military organizations. In advance of this year's All-Star Week festivities in New York City, Bank of America representatives reached out to the local chapter of the USO in an attempt to organize an event geared toward the children at this year's FanFest.

"Well, you think about the sacrifices that these kids make," said Connie Verducci, Bank of America's market manager. "Say their parent is out serving this country, so we wanted it to be something to make these kids feel good and to make them understand that -- although, rightfully, so their parents are always recognized -- this is a day to give back to the kids."

With that in mind, the Bank of America put on its youth baseball game for the second straight year. Last year's game was played in Kansas City, where the Royals hosted the All-Star Game. It was such a success that the company wanted to duplicate the event in New York.

On Saturday, it all came together with 20 military families watching their children race around the basepaths on the Diamond Field inside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

"It's a great opportunity to come out to the city and enjoy the Javits Center and get into the MLB FanFest; it's been fantastic," said McSorley, while his young son stood on first base after legging out a base hit. "We were contacted through the USO to bring service members and their families out to FanFest, and the USO is great to us. It really gets us out to experience all that New York City has to offer."

Saturday's T-ball game was just the latest in a long line of activities in which the USO has helped military families. A global organization that supports military families around the world, the USO also has a local chapter dedicated toward helping families specifically located in metropolitan New York.

Ed Reilly, president and CEO of American Management Association as well as a member of the board for the metropolitan USO chapter, said Saturday's event was exactly the type of opportunity the USO aimed to provide for military personnel and their families.

"They contacted us to see if we could find and contact military families of people in the New York metropolitan area, and of course we can," Reilly said. "So we've got the 20 families here with a bunch of eager kids who are having the time of their lives today."

Along with sponsoring the T-ball game, Bank of America has put together other initiatives to help the armed forces. On Memorial Day, the bank kicked off an "Express Your Thanks" campaign, in which Bank of America will donate $1 for every expression of thanks made between the program's start date and Veteran's Day.

Bank of America is accepting those expressions of gratitude each day at FanFest, in person at Tuesday's All-Star Game and also at a special booth set up in Times Square through Tuesday. Other ways to share your message of thanks to the troops through this program include visiting Bank of America's website or posting a message on Twitter using the hashtag #troopthanks.

"BOA has a long history of supporting military activities," Verducci said. "And most recently, here in New York City around the 2013 All-Star Game, our sponsorship with MLB has made it possible for us to be out there in a real visible way, letting people know that we're giving back and how they can help."

Bank of America will host another event Monday, in collaboration with MLB and Rebuilding Together, in which volunteers will help upgrade and improve the St. Albans Community Living Center of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. Since 2009, Bank of America's efforts toward supporting military families have resulted in more than $9 million of financial support for non-profit partners like the USO, Operation Homefront, Wounded Warrior Project and Homes for Our Troops.

It is that type of dedication, Reilly said, that makes the USO's partnership with Bank of America so beneficial in terms of helping give back to families that have sacrificed so much in the name of helping the country.

"It's just another way that the USO connects the American people," Reilly said, "and says 'Thank you' for the service men and women that keep us free and operate around the world."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.