Sporting A Cause

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The Color of Loss

Most of the people wore strands of brightly colored beads around their necks. There were white ones and red and gold and orange and silver and green and blue and teal. Each color held specific meaning.

All of these people, nearly 500 of them, had gathered to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost to suicide, and the beads represented the nature of the their loss. White designated the loss of a child, red meant the loss of a spouse, gold a parent , orange a sibling and so on. The beads color-coded their pain.

The turnout last Saturday at Monument Mountain High School was for Out of The Darkness Walk to Prevent Suicide, one of 400 such events held around the country by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to support survivors of suicide and work to end it.

The Walk was billed as a celebration of the lives of those who are gone by those who remain. One of the speakers addressed the seeming conflict of joy amid such pain.

“How can we feel such profound gratitude and such profound sadness at the same time?” she asked. Everyone there seemed to know. There were tears, as people stood at the microphone and explained their color “I am wearing orange because I lost my brother- my best friend”.

“I wear silver today because I lost military- a couple of them”.

“I’m wearing white because I lost my twin sons” -both of them.

Bertha, one of the event organizers, wore nearly every color- father, child and other loved ones- all lost . And she wore green to represent her own struggles with suicide.

Yes there were tears but also smiles and hugs and laughter and camaraderie. And that of course was the answer to the question- that amid that profound sadness, they could feel gratitude because they all had the support of each other- they all understood.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

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Our Heroes

Tiger Woods won the Tour Championship Sunday. From his first Masters win in 1997and for years thereafter, Tiger enjoyed unprecedented hero worship. As his win list grew so did his legions of devoted followers. Yes, Tiger was our hero. And then he wasn’t.

The arc of his five year journey back to golf relevance is well documented. Personal scandal and health issues including four major back operations removed him from the game and from our favor. And his struggle to regain his game has been at times difficult to watch. But through perseverance, talent, herculean effort and a laser focus, Tiger has returned. And as the film clips and headlines reveal, he is our hero again.

So how then can we mere mortal golfers, us hackers, possibly find kinship with our hero?

After all, we share none of the attributes that make Tiger great.

Most of us will enter charity golf tournaments without victory even in our sights. We set the bar low- “just don’t let us be last”. We choose our foursome mates to share in the fun of playing an unwinnable game, and as we flail on the tees and toil in the bunkers, we’ll laugh at the occasional “whiff” and rejoice together in the rare birdie. Hopefully we’ll practice gratitude for the gift of standing on hallowed sod to pursue the game we both love and hate.

But mostly we enter these tournaments for the causes. In the course of a season our fees will help send high schoolers to college, help ease the pain of disease and support the hunt for their cures, help feed, house, employ, protect and otherwise improve the lives of the disadvantaged. Our presence in these tournaments will support the arts and animal welfare, preserve our precious places, build trails and fund our volunteer emergency services.

In their aggregate, these tournaments, and the weekend warriors who play in them, raise the quality of life for all of us.

So, who’s the hero now?

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Everybody Has a Cause and Changes

Everybody has a cause, at least one. In our lifetimes we will connect in one way or another with charities that have helped us or loved ones through difficult times, or have moved us by the work they do for others.

One of mine is the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org).

Alzheimer’s disease took my father and two aunts. I think it took something from my mother and me as well. As we all know, the condition ravages a victim’s brain, progressively robbing them of their memory, thinking abilities and body control. The eventual debilitation is complete, the outcome fatal. Alzheimer’s is devastating to sufferers, and family/caregivers alike.

The Alzheimer’s Association both funds research to find a cure for this horrific disease and offers support for Alzheimer’s sufferers and their families and caregivers.

There are three Walks to End Alzheimer’s coming up. The Berkshire Walk will be held next Saturday, Sept. 22nd at the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Cheshire, MA; the Litchfield Walk on Sunday, Sept. 23rd at White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, CT and the Dutchess/Ulster Walk on Oct. 20th at the Walkway Over the Hudson.

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is approaching 6 million, so the odds are good you probably know someone who has been effected by it. Next weekend and shortly thereafter, you will have an opportunity to help. You can either join one of the Walks to End Alzheimer’s or make a donation to someone who is walking.

Important Changes

The course for Sunday’s Josh Billings Runaground has changed because the water leg of the triathlon has been moved to Richmond Pond. Go to joshbillings.com for details.

The date for the Sharon Fire Dept. Annual Golf Tournament at the Sharon Country Club has been changed to Tuesday, Sept. 18th.

The BLN 18th Annual Charity Golf Tournament has been postponed to October 1st at the Torrington Country Club.

The VNA Northwest Golf Tournament, which is usually held in September, will not be held this year.

We noted several weeks ago that the Steve Blass Golf Tournament will not be held this year but will return in full force next year.

And the Go! PDC, Go! 5K (Pediatric Development Center) , normally held in October has been discontinued .

There are 14 events going on this Saturday and Sunday, so visit the sportingAcause calendars to find yours.

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Remembering

Jaime Kirchner * Emil “Moe” Renzullo * Shane Kinsella * Dorothy Finnegan * Andrea Markoe * Evan Rashkoff * Erin Shanley * Ed McGuire * Gabby Corbett * Matt Herring * Chad Malarchuk * Charlie Ormsby * Gerald Miller * Maureen “Moe” Snyder * James Ducillo * Kara Zinke * Dave P. Waldron * Dick Oakley * Jeff Snyder * Jimmy Bernardo * Kenny Krom * Tommy Daigle * Hannah Taylor * Gerald J. Dieffenbach * Adam S. Michalek * John F. Foley * John V. Vendetti * Thomas J. Berlinghoff * Bill Solan * Keri Perotti * Bill “Murph” Mayberry * Roeliff Jensen * Elihu Burritt * Josh Billings * Alexandra Rae Gravino

Some of these people led long productive lives while others left us tragically young. Their backgrounds were diverse and very likely few of them knew each other. But they all have one common trait.

In their lifetimes, long or short, they inspired those around them by the way they conducted themselves, and their survivors have been moved to craft worthy events around their names.

Throughout this site you will see these “memorial” events sprinkled about. There are golf tournaments, softball and horseshoe tournaments, 5K’s, basketball tournaments and more. Each event has captured the essence of its namesake to raise money or awareness to fight disease, assist the disadvantaged or otherwise improve our lives.

What a wonderful way to be remembered.

Coming Up

With shrinking education budgets, high school sports programs are forced to seek outside funding. Friday the Monument Mountain Regional High School Spartan Football Team will host its annual golf tournament at the Egremont Country Club to help fund transportation costs, buy equipment and more.

Saturday will see an event that tragically speaks to these times. The first Overdose Awareness Walk will step out on the Walkway over the Hudson, Highland side. And on Aug. 31st at the Berkshire Medical Center, there will be a vigil to acknowledge International Overdose Awareness Day which has been held for nearly 20 years, and now we’re starting to notice.

Sunday the 26th, the 7th Annual Walk in the Woods for Parkinson’s will be held at the beautiful White Memorial in Litchfield. Although there is a national Parkinson’s organization, this walk will help the local Torrington Area Parkinson’s Support Group. Parkinson’s sufferers and their caregivers need all of the support they can get.

Until next time

Willie

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Welcome!

Nelson Mandela said  “Sport has the power to unite people in a way that little else does”.

Those who have ever taken to the field or the court or the schoolyard to play against others understand. A game played hard and clean with a handshake at the end is a metaphor for life lived well. When that game is played for the purpose of helping others, there are only winners.

Welcome to sportingAcause. Our modest mission is three-fold: first, to promote sports-related fundraisers. They range from golf to wiffleball to softball tournaments, and from triathlons to walkathons. If it’s a sport and it’s raising money for a cause, it’s in. We’ll even include polar plunges- not a sport really, but if folks are willing to jump into winter water for charity, they’re in too.

The second part of our mission is to promote the causes for which those games raise money. They include programs for children at risk, scholarships to deserving teens, research to find cures for diseases, and many, many more. In their aggregate, these sporting events- hundreds of them- with their accompanying fundraising, elevate the quality of life in our tri-state area beyond measure. You will see that here.

The third part of our mission at sportingAcause is to shed light on all of the local businesses who support all of the fundraising efforts all year long. There is a formula in the fundraising world- if businesses sponsor or underwrite your costs, then the rest- entry fees, etc., is profit. Here is the bottom line- without business support, there are no fundraisers. We will do our best to give those businesses the recognition they deserve.

And we can use your help. If you know of an event not listed on our calendars, please let us know- we will include it. If you have a story or a picture or a video reflective of our mission, please send it to us.

The events you see on this website today are only the beginning. New events will be arriving daily, and when school begins in September, many more will be added. The total will ever increase.

Please wander around this site, and let us know what you like about it and what could make it better, because this is your site too.

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