The beginning of the regular season is still over a week away, but that didn’t stop four softball teams from taking the diamond for a great cause Tuesday afternoon.
Bulloch Academy, Southeast Bulloch, Effingham County and Tattnall Square out of Macon converged on the softball complex at Georgia Southern University to get in some preseason games and host a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s research.
The event was thought up earlier in the summer with a collaboration between Bulloch coach Chandler Dennard and Darron Burnette — President and CEO of Sea Island Bank and board member for the Alzheimer’s Association. After Alzheimer’s, which is now the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, claimed Burnette’s mother, Burnette’s friend Dennard began thinking of ways to help promote awareness of the disease and help fundraising efforts.
“There are a couple of people close to me that have recently been affected by this illness,” Dennard said. “I wanted to figure out some way that I could help. Luckily, we have a great school and great community support that were able to pull together and make this event possible.”
As Mother Nature did her part and kept storms away for most of the day, the quartet of talented teams drew in a great crowd. With fans paying $5 admission and all of the proceeds going directly to Alzheimer’s research, every head in the crowd was a boost of energy to the teams preparing for another long season, as well as a beacon of hope for those affected by the illness.
Already a supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association, Sea Island Bank threw its full support into Tuesday’s games. Some employees volunteered their time to collecting admission and manning the booths around the field while others baked their own treats to be sold at the concessions stands.
“This was a lot of fun for us to involve ourselves with,” said Sea Island’s Jenna Lawson. “We always have a team for the annual Alzheimer’s walk and we do different fundraising things within the bank over the course of the year. This is just another way that we can reach out to the community.
“A lot of us have been working hard for a couple of months to make sure that this is a great event. Keely (Fennel) has done a great “A lot of us have been working hard for a couple of months to make sure that this is a great event. Keely (Fennel) has done a great job with organizing all of the concessions and everyone at Bulloch Academy has been a big part of helping to organize everything.”
Although they were hard at work on the softball diamond, the spirit of the day wasn’t lost on the Lady Gators. Bulloch Academy left its usual green and yellow uniforms at home Tuesday, opting for custom-made jerseys adorned with the logo of the Alzheimer’s Association and accessorized with purple ribbons and socks — purple being the recognized color of Alzheimer’s awareness.
In all, everyone involved with the event was fully behind the cause.
“We appreciate the participation of all the teams and the support of these fans,” Dennard said. “But I also need to especially thank Georgia Southern. They provided the use of the field and the field maintenance for free so that we could hold these games at a great venue with plenty of room for all of our supporters. The umpires are just as much to thank, since they have donated their services for the day as well.”
The teams involved in Tuesday’s event are just getting started and so is the Alzheimer’s Association.
On Aug. 23, the association is partnering with 119 Chops on West Main St. Throughout the day, 10 percent of every check will be donated to the association.
Tuesday’s games and the 119 Chops promotion lead up to Oct. 6, when the Alzheimer’s Association will host its annual 5K walk and run on the Bulloch Academy campus.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.