Final Travis Roy Foundation Wiffleball Tournament opens in Essex
Organizers hope to raise $1 million in first tournament after Roy’s passing
ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - The “Best Weekend of the Year” is off to a good start, as Little Fenway, Little Wrigley, and the Little Field of Dreams host the 20th Annual Travis Roy Foundation Wiffleball Tournament.
“New to this year is the fine that I’ve instituted,” Lee Roy, Travis’ father, said in his opening remarks. “If you cry for more than a minute, it’s a $50 fine. I right now owe about $435 I think it is.”
Lee bringing his typical humor to what is definitely the most emotional edition in this event’s two-decade history. The tournament and foundation’s namesake, Travis Roy, passed away last Fall. In accordance with Travis’ wishes, the foundation will cease active fundraising efforts next Spring and put the money they’ve raised into a trust to benefit spinal cord injury patients and reseach. As a result, this the last edition of the wiffleball tournament. But before they ride off into the sunset, tournament organizers have a big goal in mind
“Well it’s hard to believe that we’ve gotten to this point already because every year has simply been beyond my wildest imagintion,” said Pat O’Connor, the builder of the fields who came up with the original idea to host the tournament in Vermnt. “But to raise a million dollars, which is our goal, and all go to a good cause based on a lot of volunteer effort would be just fantastic. And it would cap off 20 years of really historic fundraising in Vermont that we will charish for the rest of our lives.”
The 32 team tournament began like it does every year, with a celebrities and sponsors exhibition game at Little Fenway. Boston Bruins anthem singer Todd Angilly was on hand to kick things off.
“Just extremely humbling,” Angilly said. “You never really understand the impact until you’re around it. What a wonderful community up here. The family, the volunteers, everybody involved. What a wonderful organization, time, and just such an honor to be a part of it. Like I said, just extremely humbling.”
UVM men’s hockey coach Todd Woodcroft was on hand, as was our old friend, longtime WCAX sports director Mike McCune who hit his first career tournament home run! Tom Caron of NESN, who has a long connection to Travis and this event also returned.
“Yeah, its such a bittersweet weekend for everybody here,” Caron said. “The spirit of Travis is everywhere, so you kind of go from fighting tears knowing he’s gone to a smile on your face, all the memories of what he did. The connection he has been able to build with everybody he’s ever met, and I literally called play by play of his high school championship. So I knew him before the accident, I’ve known the family for a very long time and they’ve done amazing work, not only keeping the spirit of this event alive, but using it to raise money that has helped so many others, so it’s an incredible weekend.”
Saturday afternoon will be the money count over at Little Fenway. We will find out if the Travis Roy Foundation was able to reach their goal of one million dollars.
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