This summer, the renowned WIFFLE Ball fields that sit by the Essex/Jericho border -- off of Sawmill Road and next to a privately-dubbed “Landsdowne Street” -- will not see the hundreds of pitchers and batters that usually head to the outskirts of the town for a good cause.
However, organizers have found a different way for the good cause to continue raising money and have those ball players participate in a different way.
The 19th annual Travis Roy Foundation (TRF) WIFFLE Ball Tournament and fundraiser will not be held at Little Fenway, Little Wrigley, and Little Field of Dreams in Essex this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the foundation will move to a format that allows for participants to get involved through several fundraisers over the summer and a virtual event August 7-9.
Using social media and #TRFwiffle, members of the 32 teams and all other registered fundraisers will be able to participate in the “You Can’t Hit a WIFFLE Ball Over That Challenge.” Sport-related initiatives will keep players, teams, and fundraisers connected virtually while also inspiring new people, young and old, to discover the work of the foundation while taking a swing at a WIFFLE Ball this summer.
“This COVID-19 era does not spare quadriplegics and paraplegics”, said Roy, the inspirational leader behind the foundation and event. “Paralyzed spinal cord injury survivors are especially vulnerable during this time. Thanks to the TRF WIFFLE Ball family’s fundraising success over the years, right now the foundation can continue to support paralyzed people with equipment to help keep them safe, healthy, and connected. Medical research is also being funded so that progress does not stop. To keep the Travis Roy Foundation mission going strong, your friendship, creativity, and support is needed now more than ever.”
The virtual presentation will be broadcast live via the Pack Network. “Vintage” games and highlights will be shown with commentary and remarks by participants of the teams along with interviews with celebrities from the sports and entertainment world. The annual remarks by Roy will wrap up the weekend.
More details and rules on the challenge, and how to register as a fundraiser, will be available at travisroyfoundation.org.
Over the last 18 years, the TRF has raised over $6 million through the summer competition with last year’s record-breaking $745,000 bringing in over $100 thousand more than the previous top mark. Monies raised help benefit and create awareness for people with spinal cord injuries. Roy, a former Boston University men’s hockey player who resides with his family in nearby Malletts Bay in Colchester each summer, was paralyzed from the neck down after awkwardly crashing into the boards -- just 11 seconds into his first-ever shift as a Terrier.
Sponsorship opportunities for the fundraising weekend are still available. A full broadcast schedule and its internet links will be announced closer to the event. Pack Network has aired the event since 2010.