Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

April 30, 2012

Veteran helping others with football event

Purple Heart recipient raising money through charity flag football

Joel Hunt’s passion for football has brought him back to the field he once reigned as a field goal kicker.

The disabled Iraqi veteran and Purple Heart recipient, joined the Army after graduating from Northwestern High School in 1998, where he shined as the field goal kicker for the Tigers.

During his deployments, Hunt was exposed to enemy fire and numerous

improvised explosive device blasts. One left him with a severe traumatic brain injury, vision impairment and paralysis in his left leg.

Upon returning to the states, Hunt sank into depression and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder remembering all the soldiers he left behind.

Thanks to his family and other supporters, Hunt, who now lives in Colorado, rebounded and now is hoping to help other fellow injured service men and women throughout the country through Buddy Bowl, a charity flag football tournament aimed to heal veterans through sports.

“Buddy Bowl helps me to stay active in a sport I enjoy,” said Hunt, who kicked the game-winning field goal lifting Northwestern High School football team to a sectional title during his senior year. “It’s truly an inspiring event.”

After hearing about the Buddy Bowl out West, Hunt wanted to bring that excitement to Kokomo.

The tournament begins with registration at 9 a.m. May 5.

Andrew Alger, promotions director for the event, said he expects to have at least three to four teams and is hoping to get local teams and referees from Kokomo to join in the fun.

Alger, a Western High School graduate, who now lives in Indianapolis, never met Hunt before running across him on Facebook.

“In doing a fundraiser called Active Heroes, an event set for May 19 in Indy, I ran across Joel on Facebook,” said Alger. “He told me about the Buddy Bowl program and said it was his dream to have it in Kokomo.”

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