Red River Rivalry weekend kicked off on Thursday in Frisco, Texas, with a charity softball game to benefit the Lone Survivor Foundation, a charity established in 2010 by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.
This weekend is when the Red River Showdown college football rivalry game takes place between the University of Texas and Oklahoma University, hence why the charity event is called the Red River Celebrity Softball Game.
There were two teams who batted off against each other for the charity game on Thursday: the University of Texas team led by actor Matthew McConaughey and the Oklahoma University team, led by country music singer Toby Keith. While this game was more for show, it also raised money for the Lone Survivor Foundation.
Luttrell is a former Navy SEAL who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart for his actions against the Taliban in June 2005, during Operation Red Wings. That operation has since been made famous following Luttrell’s actions and story, both immortalized in the 2013 movie “Lone Survivor” starring Mark Wahlberg, who portrays Luttrell. Luttrell has also authored the book “Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.”
Luttrell was the only survivor of a team of four Navy SEALs who were tasked with surveillance and reconnaissance of an area in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. They were ambushed by a group led by Ahmad Shah, who had been the primary target of the operation. Also, eight Navy SEALs aboard a helicopter that was sent in for support during the ambush were killed when the helicopter was shot down, as well as eight U.S. Army Special Operators aviators who were on board.
Luttrell founded the Lone Survivor Foundation in 2010. It restores, empowers and renews hope for wounded service members and their families through health, wellness and therapeutic support. The Foundation conducts retreats with a focus on wellness and therapeutic support. Retreats are conducted year-round over a five-day period at scenic facilities, allowing ample opportunity for the healing effect of nature and relaxation. These retreats are funded through donations made to the foundation.
Teams for the charity softball game on Thursday night were comprised of combat veterans representing various military branches. They were joined by celebrities that included McConaughey, Keith, former Navy SEALs Marcus and Morgan Luttrell, former NFL quarterback Vince Young and former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens.
Country star Toby Keith is no stranger to supporting the military. Since 2002, he has performed in 17 countries for deployed troops. He was awarded the Spirit of the USO Award in 2014.
“We are so grateful to our alumni celebrities and combat veterans for donating their time to help us bring awareness to the issues faced by our veterans and to be able to provide financial support and services,” said Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney, who was playing for the University of Texas team.
During the game, McConaughey went 0-5 at the plate, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“It’s good to be here. We’ve got a good day and a good cause,” McConaughey said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The event raised more than $30,000 from generous sponsors alone. Organizers are still tallying up the proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction.
Aside from donations, Development Director Michael Langley hopes the event helped raise awareness about the Lone Survivor Foundation and all that they do for service members and their families. “Something like this that’s going on today puts it out there,”Michael Langley said, Fox4 reported. “People are going, ‘What is the Lone Survivor Foundation?’ And they’ll start looking into it.”
This was the first Red River Celebrity Softball Game, but organizers hope this isn’t the last. They hope to make this an annual charity event.