If you haven't already, today is the day to get involved with July's 24-hour lacrosse event in Canandaigua to benefit military veterans

It’s lacrosse and it’s lacrosse for a good cause. Check that, a great cause.

What’s not to love?

The Shootout for Soldiers lacrosse event initially was announced in December, with Canandaigua being selected as one of 12 sites nationwide to host the weekend fundraiser. The event, a 24-hour loop of 24, one-hour lacrosse games, was designed to raise funds and awareness for American military veterans. 

“The local vets, it’s their day,” said Deven York, the Canandaigua Academy boys lacrosse coach and lead organizer of the local Shootout for Soldiers event. “We want the vets to come out, give them a hot dog or hamburger, hang out in the hospitality tent and let us say thank you.”

What started as an idea with high school players in Maryland in 2012 has grown immensely into a national movement, and if the December announcement seems like it was ages ago, it kind of was.

Which can mean only one thing: The actual event is right around the corner. 

Local lacrosse people working behind the scenes have been meeting regularly to plan the weekend. Senator Pam Helming, food trucks, military recruiters, officials and athletic trainers all will be part of the scene. 

One of the really neat and unique ideas planned is working in conjunction with the local chapter of the Blue Star Mothers of America. The idea is to have people visit a table at the event and pick up a paper star. On it, they’ll write a name. Perhaps in memory of a loved one, perhaps someone still on active duty. That paper star is then affixed to a wall at the new Academy stadium, thereby creating a makeshift wall of honor.

What a great backdrop that would make for the games, which get started on Saturday, July 22 and roll on through the night and into the morning of Sunday, July 23 before wrapping up 24 hours after it started. And with the first game of the weekend being for veterans only, that means the tournament is looking for 46 different teams to fill the calendar. 

So far, about half the field is filled and now that school is winding down, along with spring scholastic seasons, organizers are hoping the slots start to fill quickly.

The great thing about this, of course, is that if you’re a lacrosse junkie, 24 hours of lacrosse is practically a dream come true. But making this even richer is that the event is open to anyone and everyone, regardless of lacrosse knowledge, skill or experience.

Never played but always wanted to? Here’s a great chance to field a team or pair of teams with fellow newbies to give the game a go. Haven’t played in 20 years? No worries. Still in college or high school? Even better. 

Score is not kept on a per-game basis for this event. Instead, it’s a running score in which each new game inherits the score of the game prior and adds to it. 

The reason for this is to keep the focus where it needs to be: On the game and why this event was put together in the first place. Playing games at Canandaigua Academy, in the shadow of the VA Medical Center on Fort Hill Ave., should serve as another reminder that this event was set up to honor and thank America’s military veterans. Proceeds will benefit four national charities along with several local veteran organizations.

It’s not to late to get involved, whether you play lacrosse or not. Volunteer to help park cars, work the gate, help at the hospitality tent. If that’s not your gig, financial support is welcome through donations or sponsorship. 

Go to the Shootout for Soldiers site specific to Canandaigua for more information.

Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at rchavez@messengerpostmedia.com or follow me @MPN_bchavez