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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.

— While Leyva is recovering at the rehabilitation facility in Texas, his family – Ed, mom Rene, wife Raelynn and sister Ashley – have been at his side, which has helped his morale. What has helped even more is knowing what the field hockey team is doing in his honor.

“It meant so much to Matt, more than anything, that they would take the time to do that,” Sochia said. “I can’t put into words what it’s meant to our family.”

At first, the Thompsons wanted to donate the money directly to the Sochia family, but after talking to Rene Sochia, Julie Thompson reconsidered.

“At the time, money was not an issue for us, so Rene and Julie were talking, and they decided that the better thing would be to donate to the Warrior and Family Support Center at Fort Sam Houston,” Ed Sochia said. “It’s within walking distance of the Brook Army Medical Center [where Matthew was recovering], and it’s just been instrumental to us.”

The Warrior and Family Support Center provides services to patients at the nearby BAMC and their families, offering a place to take a break, watch a movie, check their email or get a cup of coffee. At the center, families and injured soldiers can connect with other members of the military and their families and receive emotional support and answers to their questions. They can also receive additional rehabilitation outside of the hospital, including learning to cope with life outside of the war zone.

“We couldn’t have come without their help,” Sochia said. “They got our family flown here to be with Matthew. We decided it was a great place to donate the money.”

The field hockey team was tremendously encouraging of the effort, Julie Thompson said.

“Kristi, at first, didn't think the team would be supportive of the idea,” she said. “However, the response was overwhelming. She then realized how much her team truly cared. Seeing players, coaches, parents, family, and friends proudly wearing the shirts makes Kristi and me proud and thankful.”

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