In an effort to combat the costs associated with cancer treatment, the seventh annual Kickball Versus Cancer tournament is scheduled to take place Sunday, Aug. 18, at 9 a.m.
The tournament, which was started as a way to raise money in support of the Stephen Pangborn and Willie Hayes Memorial Fund. The event was started by councilman Michael Taylor, who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma when he was 22 years old and went through roughly a year and a half of treatment before going into remission.
"The tournament is in memory of two of my best friends," Taylor said. "The first is Willis Hayes, who I graduated from high school with, and who inspired our entire class through his struggle with rhabdomyosarcoma. He was blessed enough to be able to graduate with us, but seven days after he got his diploma, he died from cancer. The other is Stephen Pangborn, another one of my closest friends. He and I went through chemotherapy together at Roswell (Park Cancer Institute) and he helped me through some of my toughest times. On the same day that they told me that I was going to go into remission, they informed him that he didn't have much longer."
Michael Taylor (fourth from left) recently announced the seventh annual Kickball Versus Cancer tournament, along with members of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Babes of Wrath roller derby team and Ink Wells Custom Printing, who will provide the shirts for this year’s event.
P-J photo by Ryan Atkins
The fund that the event supports is targeted at youths with cancer, and is primarily for expenses that often go uninsured or underinsured. According to Taylor, while the fund will never be able to cover major surgeries or procedures, it can help to ease the burden that families face in regard to transportation, treatments, travel expenses, death expenses, co-pays and the other small expenses that go untouched.
"We've all had this happen with someone in our life," said Randy Sweeney, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director. "Things come at you fast and furious, and financial woes become an issue in a hurry. Hopefully this will help a family that has had these situations be part of their life and gone through a difficult time. We're just delighted to be part of this."
In order to help with event costs, Jamestown Awning is donating the tent that will be used. Additionally, Wing City Grille will be holding a pancake breakfast on Aug. 10 from 8-10 a.m. Tickets will be $6, and various members of the Kickball Versus Cancer committee and teams will be selling tickets, which will include two pancakes, two eggs, breakfast meat and bottomless coffee or orange juice. Donations to the fund are also accepted directly through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
"We'd like to encourage the community to come out for this, especially if they can't make it to the tournament," Taylor said. "It's a great way to participate."
Last year, after expenses, the tournament raised roughly $3,000.
"The goal is $5,000. With expenses, we always wind up falling a little short of that goal, but this year we're hoping with the pancake breakfast and other sponsors interested in helping out that we will reach that $5,000 goal."
Taylor is also in the process of expanding the reach of Kickball Versus Cancer, with plans in the works to bring the event to other cities including Philadelphia, Erie and San Diego.
"The idea is that the money will be going to like-minded youth cancer charities with 10 percent of whatever money is raised coming back to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation," Taylor said
The tournament will be round-robin style, with four teams in each bracket. Each team is guaranteed at least three games. The winner of each bracket will go into the final four. The cost of the tournament is $160 if teams sign up before Aug. 4, and $180 thereafter to be paid by time of play.
If teams sign up late, they will be placed in the "time of play" bracket, so they may not know who they will play against until the afternoon of the event. In addition to kickball, there will be many other family games available to play.
Registration forms will be available at the CRCF, or interested parties can contact Taylor at 499-7618, Tournaments Unlimited at 487-6404, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a PDF download of the registration form. There is no limit on teams or players, but each team must have a minimum of nine players with at least two females per team.