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Record-Setting Fundraising Caps ‘The Best Weekend of the Year’ at the 2015 Travis Roy Foundation WIFFLE Ball Tournament
Tournament Results: CLICK HERE
Tournament Video Replays: CLICK HERE
ESSEX, Vt. — Excellent weather, superb competition and another huge fundraising effort highlighted the 14th annual Travis Roy Foundation Vermont WIFFLE Ball Tournament that concluded Sunday in Essex, Vermont. For the second time in three years the funds raised at the backyard tourney went past the half-million dollar mark for the foundation that is named after the former Boston University hockey player that suffered a severe spinal cord 20 years ago this October.
This year’s fundraising effort was a record-setting $552, 557 (as of 12 p.m. on 8/18/15) to go past the previous high of $505,000 set in 2013. The past three years the tourney has brought in over $1.5 million to bring the 14-year total over the $3.5 million dollar mark. All proceeds go to the foundation that benefits and creates awareness for people with spinal cord injuries.
“How can you make something perfect better?” asked Roy in his emotional and inspirational remarks to the participants on Saturday. “You come here and walk around. You take a swing, you eat some food, you meet some friends and you get to experience the magic. The magic comes from energy, and then it explodes right here. We are all lucky to be part of it.”
“This year ‘The Best Weekend of the Year’ turned out to be the best tournament ever,” added Roy on Sunday, reflecting on this year’s event theme. “The fantastic effort from so many people is greatly appreciated from all of us.”
The highly attended 28-team weekend tournament was held at Pat and Beth O’Connor’s three fields in Essex, Little Fenway, Little Wrigley and Little Field of Dreams, all quarter-scale replicas of the nation’s iconic ballparks. It began Friday night with legendary former Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker, Roy’s coach with the Terriers, throwing out the first pitch and concluded with the Jackhammers of Braintree, Mass. winning their third team title in Sunday’s championship game.
“Once again I really would like to thank our participants, volunteers, donors and especially our community for yet another tremendous weekend,” said Pat O’Connor. “All of us are so proud to be alongside Travis and his cause.”
A rain shower prior to Friday’s openers was the only weather blemish as the sun shined the remainder of the weekend. On a very warm Sunday, the Jackhammers capped a highly competitive but fair-played tournament with a 16-5 rout of the defending champion Staten Island Yankees, fueled by seven homers by six different players and solid pitching by tourney MVP Tim Harrington. Leading the Jackhammers was their inspirational captain Jack Shadduck, who like Roy is confined to a wheelchair after a severe spinal cord injury.
Off the field the Boston Beef collected its ninth-straight Fan Club Award for the team with the largest fundraising effort, one of several teams that each raised over $30,000. The other major award-winners were 15-year old Isaac Downs of Curse Lifted Generations and Essex Junction, one of the younger participants who picked up the Kim Trahan Fundraising Leadership Award for creativity, leadership and innovation; Billy Doyle of Waltham, Mass. and the Boston Beef, an original player, took home the Tommy Long Sportsmanship Award; and Hank Hayes of Essex, who heads up the tournament’s financial committee, was inducted into the Little Fenway Hall of Fame.
The tournament began Friday with the opening ceremonies and the annual Celebrity-Sponsor game. In addition to Parker who made his first appearance at the Vermont event, the celebrities and sponsors on hand over the weekend were former UVM hoop standout Taylor Coppenrath; former Spaulding High (Barre, Vt.) and UNH football standout David Ball; Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff; noted baseball historian and author Glenn Stout; Vermont comedian and performer Rusty ‘The Logger’ Dewees; WPTZ chief meteorologist Tom Messner; local media members Alex Abrami of the Burlington Free Press, Scott Fleishman of WCAX TV, Steve Cormier of RadioVermont and A.J. Kanell of ESPN Radio 101.3; hockey coaches Kevin Sneddon of UVM and Damian DiGiulian of Saint Michael’s; WIFFLE Inc. CEO Dave Mullany, the grandson of the inventor of WIFFLE Ball; and Dave Barger, former CEO of jetBlue Airways, a longtime supporter of the tournament.
Also on hand all weekend was a television crew from ESPN that is filming an E:60 special on the remarkable life of Roy, that will air this October around the 20th anniversary of his accident that ended his hockey career after just 11 seconds at BU.
Positive Tracks, a partner of the Travis Roy Foundation, matched fundraising by participates ages 23 and under up to $35,000.