Medal of Honor recipient retired Col. Don Ballard, a former Kansas National Guardsman, prepares to toss the coin before the start of the game between Sporting KC and Atlanta United FC during the “Sporting Salutes” military appreciation event Aug. 6. (Photo by Katie Horner, Public Affairs Office)

Kansas National Guard supports military appreciation event

Medal of Honor recipient retired Col. Don Ballard, a former Kansas National Guardsman, prepares to toss the coin before the start of the game between Sporting KC and Atlanta United FC during the “Sporting Salutes” military appreciation event Aug. 6. (Photo by Katie Horner, Public Affairs Office)

By Steve Larson
Public Affairs Office

The Sporting KC soccer team hosted “Sporting Salutes,” a military appreciation night, Aug. 6, at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, to express thanks and support for all past and present U.S. service members.

More than 14,000 people turned out for the event, including approximately 500 military members, Gold Star families, veterans and retirees. Special guests included Medal of Honor recipient retired Col. Don Ballard; Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the Kansas adjutant general and dignitaries from other military service branches.

In keeping with the event’s military theme, the 35th Infantry Division Band played in concert on the plaza prior to the start of the game and the Kansas National Guard had several soldiers on hand to visit with the public and display a variety of military equipment. Four A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets from Whitman Air Force Base, Missouri, performed a flyover prior to the game and Gold Star families from Kansas and Missouri were recognized at special ceremony prior to the game.

“The center point of the event was to honor the sacrifices of our military by partnering with the Kansas and Missouri military bases to put on an immersive military appreciation match,” said Marty Nevshemal, vice president of finance, Sporting Kansas City. “From this viewpoint, Sporting Kansas City believes the event was incredibly successful. It is also important for Sporting KC to set aside a match to recognize our military because they are our neighbors, as nearly 140,000 military personnel, veterans and military families live in the greater Kansas City area.”

Surrounded by members of the U.S. military branches from the Kansas City area, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James leads the crowd in a cheer during the Sporting KC “Sporting Salutes” military appreciation event Aug. 6. (Photo by Katie Horner, Public Affairs Office)