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Gators cap charity tournament
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Bulloch Academy picther Maddie Mobley faces down a batter in a 6-2 victory over David Emanuel Academy during the Miriam Burnette Memorial Striking Out Alzheimer's Softball Tournament Tuesday.

    Darron Burnette, Sea Island Bank President and CEO, knows all too well the devastating effect Alzheimer's disease can have on a family. However, Burnette, Bulloch Academy and the Bulloch County community did their part to help find a cure by hosting the fourth annual Miriam Burnette Memorial ‘Striking Out Alzheimer’s’ softball tournament Tuesday and Wednesday.
    Burnette, who lost his mother Miriam Burnette three years ago to Alzheimer’s disease, said it has been an overwhelming feeling seeing how much the community supports the annual tournament.
    The two-day charity event was held at the Georgia Southern University intramural fields and the GSU softball game field, as well as Memorial Field on South Zetterower Avenue..
    “All our local schools come. Southeast (Bulloch) has come since we started and to see all our other schools like Statesboro High and Portal it’s just a great feeling,” Burnette, co-founder of the tournament, said. “Everyone has been so supportive. When you have people from your own town showing so much support it just means that much more.”
    In the annual tournament’s first year, the fundraiser generated approximately $4,400 for research. Wednesday, Bulloch Academy softball coach Chandler Dennard presented the family with a check for $21,905.
    All of the funds raised were donated to the Alzheimer's Association of Coastal Georgia.
    “Alzheimer’s is one of the leading causes of death in an aging population and it continues to be a problem,” Burnette said. “We want to continue to provide awareness and educational support. One day, hopefully, we won’t have to see our family, friends or loved ones suffer from this disease.”
    A total of 15 teams from around the state participated in the tournament, including Vidalia, Pinewood, Southeast Bulloch, Tattnall Square Academy, Statesboro, Appling County, David Emanuel, Effingham County, Briarwood, Harlem, Bryan County, Portal, Long County, Jeff Davis and host Bulloch Academy.
    The event was originally called the Bulloch Bash, but three years ago underwent a name change to its current status, Dennard said.
    “It’s just a great cause. Burnette is a great friend of mine and we started to think of ways to raise money and I thought ‘why don’t we just change the name of this one and turn it into a fundraising event,’” Dennard said. “Since then the teams have been great and all the local high schools have participated. It’s a great local thing.”
    Dennard has coached at BA for a decade and said he loves seeing the competition of the tournament that has become a preseason staple for so many schools.
    Since its inception, the annual Miriam Burnette Memorial ‘Striking Out Alzheimer’s’ softball tournament has raised over $63,905 towards Alzheimer’s research.
    “We require our kids to do community service work and we also require them to get at least two sponsors for this event,” Dennard said. “For them to go out and raise this kind of money, it just makes it more special than a regular softball tournament.”
    The fundraising event just missed its goal of raising over $25,000, but Burnette said anyone can still donate by sending a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association at any local Sea Island Bank. Donations can also be made directly to the Alzheimer’s Association in Coastal Georgia.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.