Just a few weeks ago, the first time I saw an image of the coronavirus it reminded me of a Nerf ball- something a child would play with, not the fearful, hateful thing it has so quickly come to symbolize.
The scroll at the bottom of the TV screen during the evening news last night seemed like the Storm of the Century was upon us – schools closed, senior centers, town libraries, day care centers, all closed. But then, unprecedented in my experience, the scroll continued past the news through the rest of last night’s programming as event closings grew in number.
“Unprecedented” is a word we’re seeing a lot lately. All major sports programs are shut down- the NBA, NHL, MLB have ended their seasons or at least “postponed” them. The NCAA Basketball Tournament is history. March Madness has a new meaning now.
And the speed of change is breathtaking. We don’t like change usually, but if it must, let it be in a measured, considered manner, extended over time. Two days ago, Connecticut high school athletes were protesting the “unfair” abrupt cancellation of all state sports tournaments . No one is protesting now.
Most of the weekend sports-related fundraisers in our area have been postponed. Here is a list of those events that appear on sportingAcause.com.
Retro Dodge Ball Tournament, Litchfield- postponed, hope to play at a later date.
VFW Couch-Pipa Bunco Tournament, North Canaan- postponed until a later date.
Hoops For Hope, Poughkeepsie – postponed until a later date.
Shamrock Run, Kingston – postponed until a later date.
NW CT Rod and Gun Club Ham Shoot – still on for now.
Stay safe my friends, and welcome to the new normal.
The crocuses are up with the daffodils close behind, frogs have been playing dodge- the- cars on rainy nights, and yes, the golf season has begun- at least for now.
Here is a listing of some local public courses that are up and running or close to it:
Canaan Country Club in North Canaan, CT is open but walking-only, no carts yet.
Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton, CT is open for business with carts.
Undermountain Golf Course in Copake, NY is open with carts in the rough-only.
Green Woods Country Club in Winsted, CT promises to be open in “a week or so” – they are rolling greens and raking up winter debris.
Stonybrook Golf Course in Milton, CT should be open by this weekend.
Quarry View Golf Course in Canaan, CT is open with carts. The driving range is open too.
The Links at Union Vale are open with carts (cart paths only).
The Hotchkiss School Golf Course typically opens by April 15th, but can open as early as April 1st under favorable conditions, according to their website. I’d say this might be that kind of year.
Neither the Egremont Country Club in South Egremont, MA nor Winding Brook Country Club in Valatie, NY are open yet, but stay tuned – they’ll be opening “soon”.
So there you have it Golfers. Plenty of open options to dispel all of that pent up demand.
Just stretch first, OK?
I was wrong.
I’ve said it many times – for non-profits, volunteers are second in importance only to donations- money first, volunteers second.
Saturday, Development Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association- CT Chapter Tina Hogan set me straight.
” I couldn’t accomplish anything without volunteers,” she said, ” They are more important than anything”. She made her point by listing a dozen tasks that volunteers perform- office volunteers, community representatives, graphic/web design, community educators, special events, and more. “The Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes 50 to 100 volunteers alone” Tina told me.
And that was why Tina and her crew were at the Falls Village Inn this past Saturday- for the Alzheimer’s Association Leap into Action Volunteer Kickoff to recruit help for a busy upcoming season of activities and beyond. And they were successful – 25 folks came and signed up to help!
Some of them no doubt will be lending a hand for The Longest Day (June 21st) and The Walk to End Alzheimer’s which will be held for the first time at Lime Rock Park in October. LRP has chosen the Alzheimer’s Association as its signature charity this year.
You will be able to find the details of both events on sportingAcause.com.
Evidence shows that people want to help out charities, both through donations and volunteerism, but often don’t know where to start. Here’s how: email alz.org/ct and offer your services. They can use all skill sets. Or contact another local charity whose mission is dear to your heart. They can all use the help.
By unpopular demand, the Winsted Penguin Plunge 2020, which had been scheduled for March 7th, has been canceled.
This would have been the 17th year of an event that has raised over $1.1 million for Special Olympics Connecticut. In recent history, the Plunge raised $90,000 per year- and now it’s gone.
“Due to a low number of registrants” was the website reason for pulling the plug.
That’s the bad news.
But apparently some of the team participants from past years, high school, grade school, scouts, first responder teams, the ones who raised the big bucks, chose to sign up with other Connecticut Plunges instead. The money for CT Special Olympics didn’t disappear, it just shifted.
And that’s the good news.
Polar Plunges and other fundraising events in Connecticut support 12,000 to 13,000 Special Olympic athletes in the state with training and equipment in 26 different year-round sports. Special Olympics remains one of the most beloved and popular charities in the nation and beyond.
So if you had been planning to do the Plunge again in Winsted this year, you can still satisfy your cold water cravings at six other CT Plunge locations over the next few weeks. You can find them here: https://www.soct.org/.
And if you are particularly masochistic you can take part in the Pittsfield Super Plunge March 28th and 29th ( This one supports Special Olympics Massachusetts). There you can jump into icy water once every hour for 24 straight hours. Now that’s dedication!
Last week was Officials vs Cancer, a program of the International Association of Accredited Basketball Officials. Refs at all school levels were asked to donate 25% of their reffing fees to the American Cancer Society, and they raised big bucks. They always do.
But see how that plays against another ref- related program this month- “Support your Local Ref”, a program to show some respect for our sports officials in Connecticut.
Because while officials (specifically basketball refs) have been showing their love with their fight against cancer, officials in general haven’t been feeling the love at all.
You see the “Support your Local Ref ” program was initiated because the sports official community in Connecticut is in crisis- there are not enough refs to go around. And that is because 50% of all newly trained officials never return for a second season.
Verbal abuse, particularly by parents and other fans.
It’s that bad.
Six decades ago when I played Little League baseball, there was a bleacher behind home plate. The parents and fans were so abusive to the umpire, the bleacher was moved to deep center field where the expletives were harder to hear.
Little has changed, it seems.
In the sports world, no participants are more roundly maligned than the officials, right? They play the no-win position of angering one side or the other, no matter their call.
Their gaffs, which can influence a game’s outcome, often ring louder in the media than any player’s mistake. Post game air time is used to debate solutions for “bad calls”, real or perceived.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but I guess it does – behind the black and white stripes, these are people , just like us. They do their jobs as best they can, just like us. With generous hearts they raise funds against disease and other causes, just like us. And because of us their numbers are dwindling.
So while the world of professional sports continues to ask the question “What do we do with the officials?”, here on our elementary and high school athletic fields we should be asking “What would we do without them?”
To further bolster its kennel of competitors, SWSA is looking for a few good men and women to join the exciting Human Dog Sled Race on Friday evening, February 7, 2020 of Jumpfest 2020 weekend. Teams of six (five pulling and one riding) using sleds of your own design, compete for trophies in men’s, women’s and mixed categories as well as a people’s choice award for best costume/sled. The event is professionally announced.
Sleds can be as simple as an inner tube or as elaborate as an imitation fire truck.
Competition is fierce for a year’s worth of bragging rights for the winners, and fun is had by all.
If you have five friends or coworkers who are at least 18 years old and have at least a moderate level of fitness (you will be running in snow over a .3 mile course), then contact us at info@ jumpfest.org to get rules and other info.
Keep in mind that there is an element of risk involved.
Friday night of Jumpfest is a great time! An eighth of a mile of Luminarias guide you to the site, two roaring bonfires to keep you toasty, food and beverages for sale and target ski jumping and the Human Dog Sled Races are all held under the lights! Come join us!
For my final blog of 2019 I have listed the charities that have found their way into sportingAcause.com. It is a long scroll, but I hope you will take the moment to roll it. You will see the massive national and international charities that tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s, breast cancer and autism, but also tiny ones you’ve likely never heard of. They operate under the radar easing the miseries of the hungry, homeless and troubled. They put back together the lives of children broken by sexual and domestic violence. This is quiet work. We don’t learn the names of the people helped, nor should we.
Please read the list to the bottom because I believe you will begin to understand the essence of what sportingAcause is about. Hope.
Police Activities League (Torrington)
Regional Food Bank of NENY
Youth Mission Outreach (Poughkeepsie)
Brain Injury Association of MA
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (MA, NY CT)
Angels of Light (Hudson Valley)
Morris Elementary School PTO (MA)
Barkhamsted Elementary School
Arts Education at Olana Partnership
Bantam Lake Protective Association
Great Barrington Rotary Club
Berkshire Community College Nursing Program
Berkshire South Teen Outreach Nutrition Program
Alzheimer’s Association (MA, NY CT)
Litchfield Community Center
Bethlehem Fuel Bank
Berkshire County ARC
Camp Jewell YMCA
Burlington Community Fund
New Marlborough Cultural Council
Action For Alex
Nick Biancucci Memorial Basketball Courts
Water or People
Cornwall Consolidated School
Berkshire County Kids Place
Connecticut Resource Conservation and Development
Lee High School Scholarship Fund
Dover Plains High School Scholarship Fund
United Way of Dutchess-Orange Counties
Upton Lake Christian School
Falls Village Volunteer Fire Dept.
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
People’s Pantry (Great Barrington)
Indian Mountain School
Housatonic Youth Service Bureau
Michael J. Fox Foundation
Northern Dutchess Hospital Foundation
Ferncliff Forest Preserve
Free To Run
Make a Friend Be a Friend
Gilbert School Athletics
Junior Women’s Club of Litchfield Hills
Goshen CT charities
Panichi Family Center for Communications and Learning
Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association
American Legion Post 178
Millerton Fire/Rescue Squad
Salisbury Central School 8th Grade
Right to Dream
Amenia Fire/Rescue Squad
Wassaic Fire Dept
High Watch Recovery Center Scholarship Fund
Litchfield Area Veterans
Running for Rescues
Volunteers in Medicine, Berkshires
Upper Housatonic Heritage Area
Relay for Life- American Cancer Society (MA, NY, CT)
Harwinton Handicap-Accessible Trail Fund
Eagle Santa Toy Fund
Litchfield Parks and Recreation
Berkshire United Way
Kent Food Bank
Special Olympics, MA
Lee, MA High School Cross Country Program
Lenox, MA High School Cross Country Booster Club
Lenox Dale Fire Co.
Litchfield Youth Athletics
Scholarships for Litchfield, Wamogo and Forman Schools
Hartford Marathon Foundation
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (Trail Maintenance)
Making Strides, Litchfield County
Brain Injury Association, NY
Dana Faber Cancer Institute
Miles For Hope Breast Cancer Foundation
Camp Moe Scholarships
Millbrook Early Childhood Education Center
MTM Scholarship Fund
Norfolk Land Trust
Norfolk Volunteer Fire Dept.
Norfolk Rails to Trails
Great Mountain Forest
Matt Herring Foundation
Peach Hill Park
Berkshire Medical Center Programs
Morris Recreation Dept.
The Little Guild of St Francis
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
United Nations Association Adopt-A- Future
Great Barrington Land Conservancy
Culinary Institute of America Scholarship Fund
Northwestern Regional School District 7
Sandy Beach Restoration Fund
Bethlehem Food Pantry
CJ First Candle
Sharon Daycare Center
Sharon Recreation Center
St Mary’s School
Pine Plains recreation
Torrington Trails Network
Cancer Care Fund of Litchfield Hills
United Way of Dutchess County
Boy Scout Troop 114, Valatie, NY
Ichabod Crane Central School BackPack Program
Family Services Domestic Violence (Poughkeepsie)
Camp Wa Wa Segowea Scholarships
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Berkshire and Litchfield Counties
Prime Time House
Torrington Area Parkinson’s Support Group
National MS Society, MA, NY and CT
Parks and Recreation Wamogo Scholarship Fund
Sandisfield Library and Community Center
Adopt- A – Family
Amenia Fire Co.
Amenia Lion’s Club Scholarship Fund
Ancrum Fire Co.
Susan B. Anthony Project
FISH of NWCT
Community Kitchen of Torrington
Open Door of Winsted
Canaan VFW Scholarship Fund
Taconic Scholarship Fund
Charlie Ormsby Children’s Golf Clinic
Columbia-Greene Community Foundation
Sheffield Kiwanis Club
Fairview Hospital Med-Surg Unit
Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Berkshires
Millbrook Community Pre-School
EPIC Youth Empowerment Program
Grace Latino Outreach Program
Food For Life Pantry
Church Alliance Senior Housing
Harwinton Youth Sports Association
Hearts of the Father Outreach
Immaculate Conception Church of St. Martin of Tours Parish
Isaiah Lamb Fund
Canaan Exchange Club Scholarship Fund
Kara Zinke Emergency Fund
Kent Volunteer Fire Dept.
Knights of Columbus Scholarship Fund
Food Pantries of Woodbury, Watertown and Salisbury
Litchfield Sports Booster Club
Canaan Fire Co.
Maplebrook School Scholarship Fund
Oliver Wolcott Technical High School Scholarship Fund
Help Hope Live Northeast Transplant Fund
Possum Queen Foundation
Salisbury Central School
Salisbury Winter Sports Association
Salisbury Youth Hockey
Sharon Fire Dept.
Region One Athletic Fund
Stockbridge and Lenox Libraries
Torrington Area Families for Autism
St. Anthony of Padau and Our Lady of Grace Churches Scholarship Fund
Litchfield Sports Booster Club
Great Barrington Rotary Club Scholarship Fund
Roeliff Jensen Community Library
Thomas J. Berlinghoff Memorial Fund
Torrington Lion’s Club Scholarship Fund
All Hands Volunteers
Pearson School Playground
Torrington Youth Service Bureau
Hurricane Relief, Virgin Islands
Tanzanian Children’s Fund
Mekele School for the Blind
Northwest United Way
Jane Lloyd Fund
Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service
American Cancer Society
Bantam Lake Projects
Helping Hands FILAM Fund
Norfolk Curling Club
Sunday in the County Food Drive
CT Children’s Medical Center
Habitat For Humanity, Dutchess County
NWCT Rod and Gun Club
St. Peter/St. Francis School
Accelerate Brain Cancer Research
CT Brain Cancer Alliance
Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research
Special Olympics, CT
Housatonic Valley Regional High School Basketball Programs
Kenneth Krom Scholarship Fund
Mt. Everett High School Booster Club
Sharon Parks and Recreation
Litchfield High School Senior Class
New Hartford Land Trust
Sharon Fire Dept.
John Rice Scholarship Fund
Keri Perotti Scholarship Fund
Hudson River Housing
Corner Food Pantry
Karen DuCotey Fund for Kids
Burlington Parks and Recreation
St Paul’s Children’s Center
Be As You Wear
ALS Therapy Development Institute
Playground Golf Foundation
HVRHS Golf Team
Ryan McElroy Foundation
Lustgarten Foundation (for pancreatic cancer research)
Villa Veritas Foundation
Goshen Stampede Foundation
Premier Cares Foundation
Cerebral Palsy of Ulster County
Local VFW’s and American Legions
Torrington Child Care Center
Friends of Moe
Cornwall Food and Fuel
Falls Village Day Care
Food Banks of Region 1 towns
Torrington Parks and Recreation
Center for Compassion
Sheffield Volunteer Hose Company
Sharon Hospital Bike Rodeo for Kids
Christopher Unsworth Scholarship Foundation
Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Women’s Support Services
Lake Waramaug Task Force
Washington Volunteer Ambulance
Washington Volunteer Fire Co.
State Police Explorers Post (Litchfield)
Steep Rock Association
Families United in Newtown
Fidelco Guide Dogs
Hospital For Special Care
Bike New York
Bike Walk Connecticut
Community Development Corp of South Berkshire
Cornwall Food and Fuel
Lakeville Pony Club
Church World Service
Tis the giving season, is it not? If you’ve already completed your shopping list for the usual suspects and have a few bucks left over to spread additional cheer, here are some gift ideas of the non- profit kind.
Love animals? The Little Guild in West Cornwall, CT https://www.littleguild.org/ rescues homeless dogs and cats and finds loving homes for them. A donation of $25 will buy a one-day supply of food for all of their animals; $50 vaccinates one animal for a year or helps pay the cost to spay a cat ($150) or neuter a dog ($300). Or maybe adopt a pet…
Who isn’t moved by the notion of a child at risk? Berkshire County Kids Place https://www.kidsplaceonline.org/ in Pittsfield, MA picks up the pieces of children damaged by sexual and domestic violence and makes them whole. When a child comes in for a therapy session they get a snack first. $10 buys all of the kids snacks for a week. $50 covers most of a private therapy session for a child. Usually it takes 12 – 24 sessions per child.
Continuing the focus on children, Brooker Memorial https://www.brookermemorial.org/ in Torrington, CT provides early learning, child care, pediatric dental care and child therapy for youngsters in need. $25 will buy a week’s supply of healthy snacks for 10 kids or dental screening for one child. $50 will provide one month of art supplies for two classrooms or a dental cleaning for one child.
Adopt-a-Family in Millerton, NY cares about the young ones too. Headquartered at Moore & More Printing ( 518 789-4508), Stacey Moore and her large band of helpers provide clothing and toys (non-electronic) to some 300 kids up to age 13. Each child gets a winter coat, boots and three toys. A $50 or $100 donation will put a big dent in that per child cost.
Hunger may be our greatest scourge. Gratefully, there are many non- profits dedicated to feeding our residents-in-need. One of them is the Sunday In The Country Food Drive http://sundayinthecountryfooddrive.com/. They are based in Millerton, NY, but they serve 18 towns throughout the Tri-State area. They provide Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to over 300 families. A $25 gift will provide a family of six with a complete holiday dinner including a 14-16 pound turkey.
Special Olympics is one of the most beloved of international charities. It allows children and adults with intellectual challenges to participate in and succeed in 26 different sports throughout the year. And the “United Sports” program partners challenged athletes with non-challenged high schoolers to compete together. Everyone wins. a $30 donation buys a basketball. If you care to give on the installment plan, $15 a month funds year round sports activities for three athletes. Each state manages its own programs. Connecticut https://www.soct.org/; Massachusetts https://www.specialolympicsma.org/ and New York https://www.specialolympics-ny.org/ . A $65 donation will earn you a Special Olympics tree ornament.
Robin Hood Radio’s http://www.robinhoodradio.com/ home is in Sharon, CT, and it serves the Tri-State region. It is an NPR station providing local and national news and entertainment as well as providing public service announcements about non-profit activities throughout the year. Robin Hood Radio is a non-profit that needs our support. A $25 or $50 donation would help pay for stringers who report local news or help support an emergency fund take care of equipment failures, among many other expenses.
The Jane Lloyd Fund https://www.thejanelloydfund.org/ provides financial help for cancer patients in the Northwest Corner by paying their living expenses while they concentrate on healing. A $50 donation could cover a tank of gas to drive to treatments, or pay for part of an electric bill or a piece of a mortgage payment. No donation is too small.
Housatonic Youth Service Bureau (HYSB) https://hysb.org/ . Counselors at HYSB offer free counseling to youngsters in Region 1 in Connecticut addressing a broad array of emotional needs from depression and anxiety to avoiding school, and support children and families coping with personal or economic crises, emotional or physical neglect, trauma, substance abuse and more. A $50 donation to HYSB will pay for one counseling session.
The Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) http://www.jumpfest.org/ in Salisbury Connecticut has been teaching youngsters to ski – cross country, downhill and jumping for 94 years. They provide skiing scholarships for four area grade school downhill programs and maintain 20, 30 and 70 meter jumps at their Satre Hill facilities as well as host the annual Eastern Ski Jumping Championships. A $50 donation to SWSA will fund two hours of landing hill snow grooming or travel expenses for a SWSA jumper to compete at other eastern hills.
These are just 10 of the 300 or so charities found on the pages of sportingAcause.com, all of which are doing heroic work to improve lives in our part of the world. Please remember them when gift-giving this holiday season.
I hesitate to write this blog. People hate to be told or even advised about what they should do. I know. I’m one of them.
But write it I must, because after two years of searching websites and social media pages for information and writing up over 400 sports-related fundraising events around this Tri-State area, I’ve made some observations and come to some conclusions that you may find helpful.
So here is my list of Dos and Don’ts when you are organizing or promoting your event whether it is sports-related or not.
1 This should be an easy one – Decide on an event name and stick with it. I’ve seen the names of events vary so much across media that they are barely recognizable as the same event. This usually happens if more than one person is involved in promoting the event. Sometimes the name just morphs from year to year.
If there is a word like “Jogfest” in the title, make certain it is always used- it is a key word that readers will use to recognize your event.
Also, you don’t have to tell the whole story in the title. The longest event title on sportingAcause.com is eleven words – too long. Make it descriptive but brief.
2 When posting your event, especially on social media pages, please, please write the date including the year and include the town/city and state in the lead sentence. Many is the time I’ve clicked through three-plus times to find the race is in Nebraska or the golf tournament notice was from 2012. And keep your website information current too. I swear some folks haven’t reviewed their non-profit sites in years!
3 Every event must have a contact- “For more information about XYZ Golf Tournament call/email so-and-so”. But make very, very sure that contact person addresses all inquiries. Because, believe it or not, 10% of the inquiries that I’ve made go unanswered. Let me put that another way – one out of ten times that I seek information about an event, no one gets back to me.
That, my friends, is inexcusable.
4 If you have a successful, established, multi-year event, do not change the date. You will lose loyal patrons. If your event has always been on the third Saturday in July, leave it there, or you will be sorry.
5 And finally (Yay) – If you are planning a new event for your non- profit, good for you! But think seriously about the date . Ideally, you should schedule your event on a date when not much else is going on. For example, do not plan your event during September. Weekends during the 9th month are already overflowing with fundraisers. Before you pick a date, check out sportingAcause.com to get a sense of when the event traffic is lighter.
So there. Had enough instruction for one blog? I thought so.