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Roswell hero remembered at HISI

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Brandon Williams presents a jersey to Dara Sanders-Aceves as Brittany Williams and a player from the New Daygo’s look on during Saturday’s Hike It and Spike It. (David Rocha Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

One Roswell team remembered a fallen hero during Hike It and Spike It.

More than a decade ago, Sgt. Christopher Sanders was one of six soldiers who died in an attack in Sinsil, Iraq. They were killed by an improvised explosive device.

Sanders and his unit were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment, 1st Armored Division out of Vilseck, Germany.

Dara Sanders-Aceves is his widow and her teammates on the Gridtastic 8 decided to honor her late husband on Memorial Day weekend, the time set aside to honor military members who have given their lives in service to their country.

“One of our players thought it was a good idea to do an honorary deal for a remembrance or a tribute and I told him about Dara’s husband,” said Brandon Williams, coach of the Gridtastic 8. “So I thought let’s just do it and honor him with the boots, the AR (15) and the helmet. We did an extra jersey with his name and favorite number.”

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The Daygo team from San Diego joined the Roswell squad in the opening game Saturday to honor Sanders.

“We went ahead and did a quick play to Dara and she caught the ball and they pulled her flag like it was supposed to happen. (Sanders-Aceves) took the jersey off and gave it to the family of Chris Sanders,” Williams said.

Sanders-Aceves described the moment she was living in.

“They hiked the ball and the first pitch was to me and I went ahead and just turned around and I didn’t even move my legs. I just wanted to stand there and bawl for a second,” Sanders-Aceves said.

Sanders-Aceves has spent several Memorial Day weekends playing football with her teammates at the Cielo Grande Recreation area and she feels like she’s dreaming sometimes when it comes to honoring her late husband.

“Memorial Day, I’ve always been out here playing,” Sanders-Aceves said. “Having all my family here, close family and even my teammates in honoring him, it has been surreal. It’s been amazing.”

Sanders-Aceves appreciated her teammates helping keep her late husband’s memory alive.

“It means a lot to me,” Sanders-Aceves said. “We’re all close with each other. This was kind of a surprise for me. So they have always been family and they’ve made this really special for me and all my family.”

Marie Sanders, Chris Sanders’ mother, knew way ahead of time of the team’s plans to honor her late son.

“It was a big surprise for Dara,” Sanders said. “She just found out last (Friday) night and they asked me two months ago.”

Sanders told the team she was honored for them to remember her late son and the sacrifice made by him and his fellow soldiers.

“Every time someone honors your child and they have fallen, it heals,” Sanders said. “Every time, he is remembered because that’s one of those things you can do for a mother. It’s the biggest honor I could ever imagine. We love coming out and watching this team play. The fact they honored Dara … and Christopher’s son and daughter is just how you want your son to be remembered.”

Sanders said this past weekend means a lot to her family.

“Memorial Day weekend is very honored in our family,” Sanders said. “We never forget it.”

In addition to thanking those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Brandon Williams said people should be thankful for those who are still serving.

“First, give God the glory and thanks,” Williams said. “Also, a big thanks to our military that keep us safe and protect our borders. Also, all of our first responders who keep us safe locally.”

On Saturday, the Gridtastic 8 went 2-1 in the co-ed division and they won their opening game against Rudy’s Rebels the following day. They ended up losing their second game on Sunday to the Broncos from Colorado. The Gridtastic 8 finished in fourth place.

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