The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond hosts an annual softball tournament that has raised over $516,000 since its inception.
This year, despite COVID-19 restrictions and a schedule change, the show will go on at the 34th annual tournament.
The DSAGR has been aiding those with Down syndrome since its inception in 1983, and the tournament has been one of the biggest fundraisers for the organization over the years. The tournament has been recognized by the ASA Hall of Fame for its success.
This year, the men’s and women’s tournament will be held on July 11-12 at Pole Green Park. Seniors will play from Aug. 21-23.
Teams pay to enter the tournament and the money goes to the DSAGR. Anyone can sign up, but teams that play are often members of softball leagues, making the play competitive. About 45 to 60 teams sign up and are placed in different divisions to group the level of play.
The tournament is sanctioned with a partnership with USA Softball. Therefore, the winners in the brackets will get credit toward their national qualifying.
In 1988, Carol Estes Williams helped found the tournament. Her son David has Down syndrome and was three years old when the tournament began. Estes Williams, along with Wayne Tinsman, Gordon Haab and Chris Williams, were the pioneers of the fundraiser.
Family of players and Down syndrome children will be in attendance. Some with disabilities will help the fundraiser by doing tasks such as helping sell shirts. Volunteers for the event have donated more than 1,300 hours of time during the tournament’s tenure, including those at the Umpire’s Association who provide their time. The field is often donated as well, as are trophies and prizes given out at the event.
Lots will change this year due to the ongoing pandemic. The tournament usually serves as a preseason tournament in March or April, but is occurring late this year. Several of the events around the tournament have also been canceled.