August 29, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
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Who says they can’t have a ball in Iraq?


Soldier’s parents collect balls for troops and kids

Even soldiers strapped with M16 rifles like to play ball once in awhile.

“We just got an e-mail today that he was out of soccer balls and candy,” said Betsy Weaver, whose son, Richard Dibler, 27, is an Army soldier stationed in Iraq.

Collection for troops

To contact Roy Weaver to make donations, call (440) 323-7959. 

Weaver and her husband, Roy Weaver, Dibler’s stepfather, said their son and his comrades have asked them to send  balls and candy to make life in Iraq a little more bearable.

The balls — soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, whatever — aren’t just making it easier for them.

“They’re for the kids,” Roy Weaver said. “That way, when (the soldiers) are going through these different places, they can give the balls to the kids. The kids hear gunfire and bombs going off, but the guys want to give them something to make ’em a little happy.”

Dibler is a gunner on a Stryker infantry carrier, essentially a war machine built as sturdy as a tank but used to bridge the gap between light infantry and heavy infantry — it’s “highly deployable” and versatile, but also lethal in combat, according to the Army’s Web site.

Dibler joined the military after graduating from Hiram College in 2005, and he was deployed to Iraq in August of this year, Roy Weaver said.

“He wanted to get a job when he graduated, so he joined the service,” Weaver said. 

Dibler first asked his mother and stepfather to send the sporting equipment and candy almost as soon as he arrived in Iraq this summer, Weaver said. 

“Their unit left in August, and we’ve sent them 30 balls already,” Roy said. “We normally try to get 10 balls in a box, and then we stuff candy in between the balls.”

The Weavers have mailed out four boxes so far, at about $24 a box for postage and shipping.

They’ve also had help from community members and different businesses: Dunham’s Sport donated 10 balls, Dick’s Sporting Goods donated a $50 gift certificate to purchase some, while Elyria Parks and Recreation Department donated a handful of used ones, Weaer said.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need more help — whether its basketballs, footballs, candy or money for
shipping.

“He’s going to be over there for 18 months,” Weaver said. “We want to know if people will donate more for them.”

The Weavers said the troops generally prefer to receive hard candy, since the soft candy warms up in the day and cools at night, becoming too much of a mess.

The day after Halloween, Elyria dentist Scott Nagy paid local children $1 for every pound of Halloween candy they turned in, and ended up collecting close to 300 pounds of candy that will be sent to the troops.

Nagy hasn’t shipped his candy out yet, and the Weavers haven’t shipped out their next batch of sports balls and candy.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com