Thursday, September 17, 2009

2nd Annual Cancer Charity Tournament

Whew! What a weekend! It wouldn't be fun unless we had some last-minute snags: a team backing out at last minute (had to redo bracket); dj cancelled day before (our in-house hero, Jon, filled in beautifully); coke trailer not confirmed until noon day of games (city of Roy generously gave us the one assigned to the high school football game). It all worked out!
Friday night games started at 6:30 and 8:00 on 3 fields. Wes White did a great job of joining the teams together to remind them what the tournament represented and introduced Nick. These games are of a little different mindset as the umpires call anything close at home as "safe" - because that is how the players earn money - by pledges based on runs scored by their own team. Fairy godmother, Jennie, came early to help me stock the trailer, set up registration and man the concessions. I remembered to bring softballs this year, but forgot score book paper for our scorekeepers. Nick had a full day of chemo on Wednesday so wasn't feeling too well Friday night, but he was there for a few hours regardless. Didn't stop Carly from asking him to go get her a pizza while she and her friends ran the scoreboards up in the booth. We all went home smelling like dirt and excited for the next day.

Syd, Cali, Kelsey (Nick's sister), McKell & Rae

We were supposed to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to be back at the fields at 7:00; woke up at 6:35. Made it there by 7:05, not pretty, but there. Kelsey's team, Bukoos, lost their first 2 games early but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me. The team filled in to be scoreboard operators, concession stand volunteers and miscellaneous errand runners. We also had several volunteers from Bonneville High's Decca group, thanks to the leadership of Ralph Andersen - one of the umpires who has been raising awareness for Nick's Warriors since last spring. Nick's buddies came to help - Ty, Mark, Kyler & Kory, Carly, Becky, TJ, Colton, Chris, fairy godmother Denise and her husband Jerry, Camille Thornley, Jon & Bernadette McGowan, Wes White, Ren Parkin, Sheri & Heather Stuki and of course, Nick's dad Todd and stepdad Lee.

The skills contest was a blast. Just when everyone is hot, tired and hungry, the music starts to play and pretty soon, everyone is singing along to the songs and getting excited about the competition. Wes hosted the activities and it went fairly smooth with lots of happy faces. Winners had their picture taken with Nick and prizes were handed out. I was a little worried about a couple of the teams, maybe they were wondering why they signed up for such an unconventional tournament. But when I asked the coaches and players if they had fun, they enthusiastically responded "YES!", grinning from ear-to-ear.
Kelsey, Nick & Cali

Play resumed after the skills contest and one-by-one, teams were eliminated. As teams lost, tee shirts would be handed out and we took the opportunity to thank the coaches and players. Lee and Wes did a great job but at one point, they were busy and I had to hand them out to a newly eliminated team. As I stood there with the shirts, I asked the girls if they had a good time. And then I promptly burst into tears, thanking them for coming and the impact they each have given to fight childhood cancer - you know, in that girl voice with about 7 different octaves. The coach also wiped away tears while the girls just looked at me, silently saying, "Ok, I'm uncomfortable now..." Not at all what I wanted to convey. I went looking for Lee and told him he had to do the rest of the teams, but when I looked at him, he was emotional and said he didn't do any better than I did. We doubled over in laughter at that point.

Actually, Lee was terrific in his talk with the teams. He would ask them if they had fun, if they worked hard, if they were tired and was it worth it? He then explained children their own age have cancer and they work harder, every day, and always come back to keep fighting. He reminded them where the money was going from the tournament (Nick doesn't keep a dime) and he humbly thanked them for being such wonderful and true warriors. Sorry, Sliders - that was really what I wanted to say to you...

We had one umpire get hit with a bat in his forearm and had to go get xrays (turned out to be a deep bruise, thankfully), but this meant the head of ASA umpires - Jerry Coleman - had to come out to the park after already calling 4 games in the morning and leave the comfort of his couch with football on tv. He called two more games and was ready to leave when Lee and I approached him. He said, "Oh no, there aren't more games, are there?" We explained the other two games going on were running behind and we needed him to call the 12u championship game. He looked at the ground, looked at the field on the left, the field on the right, sighed heavily then said, "Ok, I'll START this one, but as soon as the other game is over, the other ump needs to come over." Aw...nice guy! I want to give a special thank you to the umps - they donated at least one game each, took crap from parents and coaches that would occasionally forget this was a charity tournament and worked non-stop in the heat. A couple of the umps gave up an opportunity to call college games to be with us, one of course, was Ralph Andersen. Ralph also donated 6 cases of water with "Nick's Warriors" on the label for us to sell and for the championship game, he changed into a fresh, clean uniform - shoes, too - because he wanted Nick's tournament to be first class. Ralph and Scott were there from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.

Hot Shotz won first place in the 12u and Predators took the 14u. Congratulations to both teams! Check out Nick's website,, to see all the pictures. I'll have the final numbers in a couple of weeks after we collect all the pledges.

Nick fared well, including going home to have labs drawn. We were all exhausted but ready to do it again next year.

Nick & Caden

A special thank you to Travis Flint and the city of Roy - they donated the fields, crew and the coke trailer. That is HUGE! Also to all the volunteers - without you, the tournament wouldn't have made it. It was hot and chaotic, but you all sailed through the day and helped make it a success! Thank you, Jennifer Stahle, for the prizes you donated; Tanya Gall for making the raffle a success; Coach Poll for the donated bat; Jen Reynolds for not letting me cancel the tournament; Joyce Stacey for donating the tee shirts; Brandon Newby for the art design; Jarrett Anderson for the enormous amount of time you donated to the concession stand; all the coaches that donated the extra $100 per team when the registration fee was lowered; the several moms who tore out extra scorekeeping pages from their personal books; and to all those that I have mentioned in the above story - THANK YOU!

Nick only represents one story but all of you helped make many stories have some happiness through the research success of CureSearch and the opportunity of adventure through First Descents. As Tanya Gall said, this is our own community coming together for a greater cause. The human spirit is amazing and I'm very proud of our softball family.
Blessings to you all,


Anonymous said...

Lori - you have given so many thank you's (and rightfully so). I think we all want to say a huge thank you to you for doing such a wonderful job at putting the tournament together. We all take our hats off to you! You are truly an amazing woman.
Nick - way to go. It was so great that you attended the tournament even though you weren't feeling so good. The work that you and your family do for cancer awareness and fund raising is terrific. We all take our hats off to you too.
You have both enriched my life so much..... I love you dearly.
FG Jennie xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lori, Nick and team for all that you do for First Descents & CureResearch...the work that you all do is amazing. Love you Nickname :)

We love you,

Lauri & FD family

Chris Ulvin said...

Dear Nick, Lori, Lee, Carly, Kelsey, Todd, numerous friends (many named in this posting) and gracious new "Nick Friends". Wow!!!! What an accomplishment! I'm stoked for next year's tournament and I'm sure uncle Stan and I could help out somehow - so put us on your "helping hands" roster for 2010. I'm curious how many prayers were said during the tournament? I'd say they were all answered! Thank you heavenly Father. Love, aunt Chris