Swinging the bats to raise funds for cancer research prompted Georgia Power employees to host the first of what they hope will be an annual event benefiting the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life campaign.
Seven local teams spent a warm and sunny Saturday pitching and hitting for a cure at James Brown Park as teams fought elimination in search of the first-place trophy.
Robert Stokes, the area manager for Georgia Power, said he thought the event would bring in around $500-$1,000 for the cause.
“It’s our fundraiser and a way to give back to the American Cancer Society,” he said. “We are a steward in every community and this is just one of the events that we sponsor and support. I have a brother who actually passed away from lung cancer about 10 years ago, and ever since I’ve been involved with Relay for Life.”
Hillery Sanchez, a customer-service representative at Georgia Power and the chairperson organizing Saturday’s tournament, said Georgia Power and its employees always have been big participants in Relay for Life events.
“We are always out there for the walk,” she said. “People always do bowling tournaments and golf tournaments, but we didn’t hear of anybody doing softball. We wanted to look for a big way to bring in a lump-sum-amount donation.”
She said she was surprised how well the softball tournament was received by the community.
“We are really impressed,” she said. “Everything has worked out really well. We have a lot of supporters, a lot of donations and a lot of businesses stepped up and sponsored us, so we plan to make it an annual event every March.”
Sanchez said seven local businesses signed up teams and National Softball Association officials volunteered their time to umpire the event.
Sanchez said Georgia Power employees always are doing something to raise funds for the cause. She said they sell candy at their office year-round, host occasional hot-dog and baked-good sales and rely on the generosity of folks making donations and sponsoring their events.
She said the softball tournament was a way of trying to add to the Relay for Life coffers.
“This is our first time actually doing a big event to try and put on top of what we usually raise,” she said.
Sanchez, like Stokes, said she has a personal reason for helping the cause.
“My friend, who I have grown up with since second grade, has an older brother that has been diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “He has Leukemia. And that was actually the first time that cancer has hit close to home. They are like family to me and I know it’s a rough thing to go through.”
Local teams in the tournament were Bad Apples, Chemtall, NES, Keep Liberty Beautiful, Shane’s, DaKine and Bold and Beautiful.
• First place – Bold and Beautiful
• Second place – NES
• Third place – DaKine