Guest post by Seann Ritzman
As May comes to an end, I reflect with bittersweet emotion; it's a time to reflect on some great moments around Memorial Day that I'll cherish for years to come as a part of two of Cisco's EROs (Employee Resource Organizations).
The VETS (Veterans Enablement & Troops Support) and CDAN (Connect Disabilities Awareness Network) ERO's were a part of some touching moments around Memorial Day. VETS and Work Place Resources (WPR) stood up The Fallen Comrade Table at Cisco sites across the country. VETS also worked with MemorialDayFlowers.org organizing the Flowers for the Fallen event in which flowers were laid on the graves of veterans in the Raleigh National Cemetery in Raleigh, NC and Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, CA.
VETS and CDAN came together for an exciting high point that takes place toward the end of May; the VA Valor Games Southeast. Managed by Bridge II Sports with the support of companies that call Research Triangle Park, North Carolina home, this event is a bridge between the two Cisco employee resource groups that results in success through collaboration at the Games.
The Valor Games are made up of 11 sporting events with the purpose of engaging wounded veterans and service members in the spirit of competition which encourage individual empowerment through single and team events. The result is that they inspire all while driving competition and comradery in our nation's wounded veteran community.
I say with confidence that seeing the joy, hope, energy, and empowerment it gives the athletes is something that you truly need to experience in person. As the VETS RTP Co-Lead and CDAN Regional Co-Lead, I am particularly proud of our employee families as well as their excitement for the opportunity to make a greater impact on our military and veteran communities. We quickly filled our 125 volunteer spots which included SVP Fran Katsoudas, our Chief People Officer, who coached one of the wheelchair basketball teams. When I heard Fran was eager to champion this event within our ELT and co-sponsor the games with MetLife, the pride I feel being a part of the Cisco family grew even greater.
While my volunteer time at the games was not as much as I'd hoped this year, the volunteer time that went into the planning and preparation of the games was large and taxing, albeit; absolutely worthwhile. The model of small teams/big results, seems to be engrained in the Valor Games as Bridge II Sports manages to make this event happen with a staff of about 10 people. The friendships built by the support staff has been great, and the only thing that outshines that connection are the bonds you see between athletes.
Whether the athletes are professional, or completely new to an event prior, the love they have for each other, the volunteers, and the games is contagious and inspiring. The games are supposed to be for disabled veterans, but I can tell you that while abilities may have varied, there was nothing disabled about these athletes.
I am blessed to be a part of the teamwork that goes into the games, and hope you will join us for the experience in 2019. Proud to serve, those who serve.
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