BARRHEAD- On the Labour Day long weekend, two Barrhead area teams won the annual Jackpine Slow-pitch tournament, but the real winners were the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation which will receive a $9,600 donation.
The softball tournament has been an annual tradition in Fort Assiniboine since the 1980s, but it has only been recently that the event has become a fundraiser for the Stollery. This is the fourth year the tournament was a fundraiser for the children's hospital. It would have been the fifth, but in 2020 the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
"We just wanted to do something good. As parents of a daughter with a disability, we have been to the Stollery a lot," said Darren Wood.
Wood, along with his wife Jill, are organizers of the tournament.
He added this year's version of the tournament was more difficult to plan because of the pandemic.
Although the province lifted the majority of public health restrictions on July 1, planning for the Labour Day weekend usually begins well before that.
"Because we didn't know what the restrictions might be, we cut it down to 18 teams [nine men's, nine women's], down from our usual 28 to 30," he said. "It was just more manageable having 100 people rather than the usual 300 to 400."
Wood noted that most of the teams were from the region, such as Barrhead, Swan Hills, Onoway, Whitecourt and Fort Assiniboine.
All the activities took place at Walsh Park. In previous, non-COVID years, there is usually a large contingent from Edmonton.
To keep things simple and safer, Wood said all the activities were outside.
He said in past years, the tournament has utilized the Fort Assiniboine Legion or Recreation and Agricultural Centre for some of its festivities.
In addition to the tournament, a four-game round robin followed by a round-robin, there was a silent auction.
"We ask every team to bring an item and the auction is open to players, spouses, just everyone," he said.
The silent auction raised about $4,000. The rest of the fundraising total came from the teams' entry fees, sponsor contributions, raffles and teams donating their winnings.
Considering that due to the pandemic, he did little to no advertising for the tournament and did not do as much canvassing for sponsors, Wood said he is pleased about the amount of the donation they will give to the Stollery.
In 2018 and 2019, the tournament raised in the neighbourhood of $15,000 to $16,000.
"Our donation is down a little bit but given that we have fewer teams and we did not do as much planning or canvassing as other years due to the pandemic, we are happy with how much we were able to raise.”
And if you are curious, the winner's of the tournament were the Master Batters on the men's side and the Cleats and Cleavage in the women's division.