Project Unify’s First Event Honors Veterans

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- After facing backlash for kneeling during the national anthem at one of their games, the Razorback women's basketball team launched Project Unify.

The players held their first event on Friday (Dec. 9), a breakfast honoring veterans.

Leslie Benedict is a veteran.

“If there wasn't a platform for them to stand by those convictions and express those convictions, then it would of made my service pointless,” Benedict said.

"It's a portrayal of what America is supposed to be about,” Benedict said.

She said she came to the breakfast to let the players who knelt know that there are others like herself who didn't feel disrespected by the team.

“You know they are not disrespecting veterans, they're not disrespecting America, they are standing up for equality and freedoms and unity that we are supposed to have in this country,” she said.

Freshman point and shooting guard Jailyn Mason said she wanted to show veterans like Benedict how much they appreciate their service to the community.

“Just kind of have a positive community and whatever background you are from, however old you are we can come together and have a full understanding of who people are and kind of build a good empowering community,” Mason said.

Mason said that they are happy with the turnout and the conversations they were able to start.

“Me and some of my teammates have been able to be able to mingle with some of the people here and learn a lot about what they've gone through as a veteran and just why they are here in general,” Mason said.

The team is coming up with other ideas for events to interact with the community.

"They're asking for awareness they're asking for compassion and strength in this country to come together to fight for things that still tear down it's values,” Benedict said.

The players announced they would no longer kneel at games after a lawmaker suggested putting a hold on the university's budget, so his concerns about the team's actions could be addressed.

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