Wiffle ball tournament raises record amount for Type 1 diabetes

Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 9:32 AM EDT
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ESSEX CENTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Little Fenway was the site on Saturday, as SLAM T-1D is hosting its 12th annual Vermont Summer Classic Wiffle Ball Tournament this weekend.

This has been the largest event to date for the organization, raising over $300,000 this year to support people living with type 1 diabetes. Teams from across Vermont and New England, and even a team all the way from Detroit, Michigan are in on the action this weekend, which this year, included a home run derby on Saturday.

Each team in the tournament nominated one player to participate, and people were able to pledge money for each home run hit, with the proceeds of almost $10,000 going to the Wheeler family, who recently lost their home and most of their belongings in the flooding in July.

Ten-year-old Ben is living with type 1 diabetes, and is playing this weekend alongside a half-dozen teammates also living with type 1. He and his family say being a part of this event has meant a lot to them.

“It’s very fun playing wiffle ball with other people that have Type 1 Diabetes. Yeah, very fun,” Ben Wheeler said.

“Very overwhelming in a very good way. We’ve had a lot of support from the beginning of this disaster. Meal trains and a GoFundMe, you really realize what a part of a community you are when something like this happens,” Addie Wheeler said.

“There’s a lot of people here without type 1 supporting people with type 1. The whole crowd, the amount of teams every year, there’s more and more teams and more and more money fundraised, it’s amazing,” Alex Wheeler said.

“Our daughter was diagnosed at the age of four, in 2005, she’s now 23, and she was just talking to us about how the disease really rots. But that this kind of tournament, this event, gives her energy for the rest of the year. We’ve heard from players with type 1 diabetes that when they’re here, it’s like Christmas to them. So part of this is really about rejuvenation,” Jeff Kolak, CEO and Co-Founder said.

The Western Wildcats are a Major League Wiffle Ball team that came all the way from Detroit, Michigan to play in the tournament.

“We do a lot of cool things, but nothing for as good a cause as this,” Wildcats player Kyle Schultz said. “We have guys with type 1 diabetes [on our team], which makes it even more special. I don’t know if you saw it, but one of our guys won the home run derby this weekend. He’s a type 1 diabetic, so it’s a storybook kind of thing right here.”