By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
BA striking out Alzheimer's

    In the last 11 years Chandler Dennard wore a lot of hats in his time at Bulloch Academy — athletic director, director of development, basketball coach and softball coach among them.
    But of all the roles he had with BA, Dennard would admit one of his favorites was helping start the Miriam Burnette Memorial Strikeout Alzheimer’s Tournament with his good friend Darron Burnette — whose mother is the event’s namesake. Dennard decided to scrap the traditional bracketed format of the old softball tournament hosted by BA for a better cause — a two-day showcase used to raise money and awareness.
    Even after he passed the head coaching reigns over to Kyle Chambers, Dennard still played the main part in helping organize the tournament as the school’s athletic director. However, by now it’s no secret Dennard was replaced as BA’s athletic director in favor of former SEB head football coach Pat Collins in what was at the very least a surprising shakeup in May. 
    But even as he moved on from BA, there was never any doubt in the minds of Burnette or Dennard that the tournament was going to go on.
    “I don’t think there was ever a concern about that,” Dennard said. “This event was never focused around it’s affiliation with the school, it’s about helping people with this disease and spreading the awareness.”
    After working with the cause for more than half a decade, perhaps it was fate or even an act of God which led Dennard to his new job as the director of the Willow Pond Senior Center. Bruce Yawn, the assistant director of Willow Pond, knew of Dennard through Burnette by being on the Sea Island Bank board of directors.
    So it was only a two-week transition from being at BA to being at Willow Pond, and it couldn’t have been a more appropriate landing spot. Dennard can now go over to the memory care wing at his new building and see exactly what he’s been working to cure with his softball tournament.
    “It’s all been incredibly surreal,” Dennard said. “I was ready for a change as it was and I think me working with Alzheimer’s these past six years led me to this job here. I really believe that.”
    So with his new appreciation for the people affected with the disease and still holding all of his coaching contacts from his BA days, Dennard may be in a better position than ever to keep the tournament going strong. And this year’s iteration of the tournament is by far the strongest one yet.
    A record high 20 teams will participate in this year’s tournament with another record 50 sponsors putting their name on the event. And Burnette will be quick to tell anyone it’s never too late to pitch in for a donation, even on the day of the tournament.
    “We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of great people pledge their support over the years,” Burnette said. “It’s never too late to throw in a donation no matter how small.” 
    Last year the tournament raised $22000 and in the six years combined the total stands at $84000. So on top of this being the highest attended and most sponsored tournament ever, if the tournament hits their goal of $20000 this year they’ll finally break the six-figure mark. So in essence, there’s more than one milestone on the line over the next two days.
    The event’s been a rock for the Coastal Georgia service area of the Alzheimer’s Association and one of their biggest money-generating machines in the past six years. Even in her first year working in the Coastal Plains senior director of events Angel Carter knows this is a key event to show up for.
    “This year the combined events (tournament and concert) are projected to raise over $25000,” Carter said. “Striking out it growing every year and it’s become an enormous resource of help to the families we serve.”
    The games kick off today at 10:00 AM to 6:45 PM and will recommence Wednesday from 9:00 AM until 5:45 PM. The three fields at Georgia Southern and the youth field across the street next to Wendy’s will be used as well.