It was a softball tournament, the Caring for Katie tournament to be exact, at the Vilonia City Park, organized by a couple of former students from Vilonia High School. Thirteen teams signed up for the double elimination tournament, and tons of stuff were donated for raffle prizes too. People from the community stepped up and donated all the items sold for concessions as well. All this generosity meant that every dime taken in yesterday was able to go directly to the beneficiary of the tournament.
Katie is a 20-year-old graduate of Vilonia High School who was recently diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Almost immediately, she was a patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital where she began treatment. For the past several weeks, she's been making trips back and forth to Memphis for the care she requires, and this routine looks to last for many more months at least.
Katie with the winning team.
At VHS, Katie played softball, so it should come as no surprise the organizers were former teammates of hers. When they heard of Katie's diagnosis, the primary organizer immediately began searching for a way to help. She came up with the idea of a tournament and found a suitable date, just a month or so away. Once the event was scheduled, another former teammate stepped up and took control of the raffle. Everything just took off from there. In just about a month, this event went from the conception of the idea to fruition to completion. It was a feat that few could pull off, but these 20-year-old young ladies got it done!
Katie with runner up team.
And, oh, what a turnout!
I don't know how many passed through the gates of the park yesterday, but it was a lot. There was a team made up of VHS teachers and their kids, a team made up of Vilonia Junior High faculty and spouses, several teams of former graduates of VHS that went from last year to several years back, and at least two teams from out of town. For most of the day, the park was filled with spectators too. Volunteers handled concessions, the raffle, game officials, and scorekeepers. There were literally hundreds who attended and contributed to make this day a smashing success.
When all was said and done and the final out put an end to the championship game, more than $8,200 had been raised through entry fees, the raffle, concessions, and donations. No supplies had to be paid out of that. Nobody asked for or took any pay for helping out. So every single cent of those thousands of dollars went to Katie and her family to help offset the expenses they will certainly incur as she battles the disease.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." ~ 1 John 3:18
This event was just another example of our community coming together to care for one of its own. Over the seven years I've worked here, I've witnessed the closeness, love, and compassion of the folks here time and time again. As much as I wish there was never a need for events like this, to witness them and take part in them are as inspirational as anything can be. I really can't imagine working anywhere else.
I am so blessed, and proud, to be a part of this small, caring community.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.