Where's the Beef? At a Wiffleball Tournament, That's Where

Pete McKeownAnalyst IJuly 27, 2009

There are few events that get me excited to the point of celebrating. Road trips comes to mind. So do tailgates or even Deadliest Catch marathons. However, there are few things that can rival the anticipation one feels when heading into a charity Wiffleball Tournament.

Last year, I had the privilege to be asked to play in one, with a bunch of friends from high school on one of the best wiffleball teams in the Northeast, The Boston Beef. We're kind of a big deal, not your ordinary group of whiffle ball players. 

This is no ordinary wiffleball tournament either. The fields? Replicas of Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. The home-run derby pitcher? Bill "The Spaceman" Lee of Red Sox lore. Not to mention the fact that there are two dozen teams vying for the championship and enough competitive energy to rival any Olympic competition.

As a newcomer, these were the things that jumped out at me.

Now, a year removed from my initial experience, I have even more excitement and nervous anticipation. Sure, I'm ecstatic to put yellow plastic on white plastic and see my jacks clear the mini Green Monster, and to have a chance to talk shop with Bill Lee about the best wiffleball pitches to turn on.

Who in their right mind wouldn't? 

Now, I know better. The fields and competition are perks of an event that has a much larger meaning, a greater importance than trivial games. It's a charity wiffleball tournament, and it wasn't until I saw how much this meant to those in need that I realized how important this event really is. 

The charity this tournament benefits is called The Travis Roy Foundation. For those of you who don't know him, Travis was an elite hockey player who once reached the pinnacle of college hockey by getting a scholarship to play for the Boston University Terriers under legendary coach Jack Parker.

It'd be like playing basketball under coach K at Duke, and it couldn't have gone to a more deserving or hard-working player. 

Unfortunately, tragedy struck Travis, as he went head first into the boards eleven seconds into the first shift of his BU career, paralyzing him from the neck down. Imagine for a moment going from being an unbelievably talented athlete to not being able to walk.

I can't even fathom the difficult times that must have followed such misfortune, but Travis didn't waste his time feeling sorry for himself, rather, he became a beacon of hope for all people with traumatic spinal cord injuries, showing a never-say-die spirit with his steadfast determination to not accept this as the defining moment of his life. 

This tournament is a testament to that spirit, to show that there are others who can and will help. People who have these injuries are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, whether it be getting the money for necessary equipment or the will power to stay positive and live each day without the ability to walk, something that can't fully be comprehended until it's taken away from you. 

The money we raise has a direct effect on people's lives, offering grants to people in need of the basic equipment to live a proper life. For instance, $4,125 went to a 4-year-old girl in Vermont, for an electronic page turner, so she can learn to read. $1,000 can buy a portable ramp. $5,000 can buy a much needed new wheelchair.

I went against my better judgement by writing this article, because I don't want this to seem like a public service announcement, like a Sally Struthers infomercial asking for money to help children in Africa.

However, it doesn't matter what I think. This event, and all fundraisers like this for any number of good causes, are greater than any one person.

I didn't realize it when I started that it would be the charity and good will that gave me the excitement over playing competitive wiffleball for an entire weekend, but that's what happened. Sure, the Boston Beef will go into this tournament with every intention of winning with our play, but more importantly, we want to be the team that raises the most money. 

So if you'd like to put some of your hard-earned money towards this charity, you can do so by clicking here, choose "Boston Beef" and help a group of people who need it.

I wouldn't normally solicit in a forum such as this, and if you don't want to give, that's fine too. I just wanted to give you the opportunity, as it has made me realize how great it can feel to help out a good cause; though, I have to admit, winning the tournament would feel pretty great too.