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C-NS field hockey team raises money for soldiers, families through T-shirt sales

Kristi Thompson, left, designed the T-shirts she and Ashley Sochia are wearing. The Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey team sold the shirts to raise money in honor of Blair Thompson, Kristi's cousin, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, and Matthew Leyva, Ashley's brother, who was wounded in Afghanistan.

Kristi Thompson, left, designed the T-shirts she and Ashley Sochia are wearing. The Cicero-North Syracuse field hockey team sold the shirts to raise money in honor of Blair Thompson, Kristi's cousin, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, and Matthew Leyva, Ashley's brother, who was wounded in Afghanistan.

— When Army SPC Blair Thompson of Rome was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 25, 2010, his family was devastated.

When Army Pfc. Matthew Leyva of Cicero was wounded in action in Afghanistan more than a year later, they were spurred to action.

Julie Thompson, Blair’s aunt, and her daughter Kristi, captain of the varsity field hockey team at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, with the aid of Brian Doyle of Interform Printing, decided to create a T-shirt with “Support the Troops” yellow ribbons as well as the initials “BT” and “ML” on the sleeves. Leyva is the brother of former C-NS field hockey player Ashley Sochia.

“Kristi and I were just planning to do a basic clothing order, and due to the effects the war had on family and friends, we decided to do something to help out the troops,” Julie Thompson said. “Since Blair and Matt had a relation to those involved with the C-NS field hockey team, we wanted to do something in their honor.”

Leyva, a 2008 C-NS graduate, was wounded on Aug. 9 when he stepped on a pressure plate-activated IED in southeast Helmand Province, Afghanistan. His father, Ed Sochia, said Leyva was on a dismounted patrol and he was on point in his column when he stepped on the IED. Sochia said Leyva had to have both legs amputated at the thigh. He also sustained a significant injury to his left arm, lost the pinky and ring finger on each hand as well as more of his left hand and suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from the blast. He also has some small shrapnel wounds, which, given the severity of his other injuries, are relatively negligible.

“He’s recovering well,” Sochia said. “He’s got the will to move on and persevere. It was touch and go for a long time. He’s got extensive rehab in Texas still ahead. We don’t know when he can come home. It’ll be upwards of a year until he’s well enough to travel to New York to be home with his friends and family.”

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