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Gators hosting annual tournament for Alzheimer's awareness
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Bulloch Academy shortstop Ashley Burke, right, gets the tag on Courtney Cox of John Milledge Academy during the 2014 Miriam Burnette Memorial Striking Out Alzheimer's softball tournament at Georgia Southern University.

    The Fourth Annual Miriam Burnette Memorial “Striking Out Alzheimer’s” softball tournament is set for July 28-29 in Statesboro. The two-day charity event will be held at Georgia Southern’s Sports Complex and Memorial Field across from Wendy’s and will feature 13 public and private school teams from around the area. Local and area teams competing are Bulloch Academy, Briarwood Academy, David Emanuel Academy, Pinewood Christian Academy, Tattnall Square, Effingham County, Portal High, Statesboro High, Southeast Bulloch, Bryan County, Long County, Appling County,and Jeff Davis. Games take place on all four fields and begin both days at 11 a.m. Admission is $10 daily for adults and $5 for students. Children 6 and under are free. Concessions will be available. All proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association. According to Chandler Dennard, the tournament’s co-founder and softball coach for Bulloch Academy, the tournament has raised almost $50,000 in its first three years and hopes to raise close to $25,000 this year.
    “What more could you ask for,” Dennard said. “Softball teams from all over the area coming together for two great days of softball for an even greater cause. The amount raised says a lot about the growth of this event and the support from the community as well as the area high school softball coaches. Every time a coach calls me to enter his or her team in the tournament, they talk about how somebody in their family has been affected by Alzheimer’s.”
    Sea Island Bank, a division of Synovus Bank, is the primary sponsor of the event.
    “Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disorder that damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory and other brain functions,” said Darron Burnette, the tournament’s co-founder, local Alzheimer’s Association board member and Sea Island Bank president and CEO. “Funding for Alzheimer's care, support, and research comes from individuals, businesses and other special events like the ‘Striking Out Alzheimer’s’ softball tournament to fight this terrible disease.
    “This event will kick off a host of other activities that will conclude with the annual ‘Walk to End Alzheimer's,’ which will be held at Bulloch Academy on October 10,” Burnette said. “Please join us for two days of fun and friendly competition in July. Your involvement accelerates our mission to eliminate Alzheimer's and to provide the care and support to those living with the disease.”
    Members of the Southern Eagle Baseball and Softball Officials Association reduce their normal umpiring fees. Their time is a gift back to this great cause. The tournament’s Home Run Sponsors include Action Signs, Wells Fargo, Benton Metal Depot, Stubbs Oil Co., Re/Max Preferred Realty, Don and Lisa Aaron, Howard Lumber and Hardware, Mellow Mushroom Savannah, Statesboro Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Cardiovascular Association of Eastern Georgia, Tri-Care Family Medicine, DeLoach, Odell and Associates and Sea Island Bank.