BROWNSBURG — The Striking Out Cancer Ladies Softball Tournament returns to Brownsburg Aug. 25 after a two-year hiatus.
The event is put on by the Sweet Melissa Foundation and is an all day affair, starting with a 9 a.m. registration, 10 a.m. first pitch, and a raffle and silent auction that runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Brownsburg High School girls’ softball diamonds. Following the tournament, an after party to benefit an additional victim will be at the Dog House bar and grill in Brownsburg.
The Sweet Melissa Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2007 by Melissa (Sipe) Nichols’ family, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Because softball has so long been a part of the family’s life, using it as a format to help raise funds for those who need it has become quite a vehicle for the group, raising between $12,000 and $16,000 with each event.
“It’s exciting because of the fact that it’s helping people in the community,” Michelle Fahrenbruch, vice president of the SMF and Melissa’s sister, said. “The excitement is that people get so involved. It’s inspiring. It’s really exciting and it’s amazing the support that we get. It’s an emotional day, an inspiring day. We’ll probably have around 500 people show up.”
This year’s proceeds will go to 13-year-old Triston Chandlee and 32-year-old Amanda Kelly, both battling different forms of cancer. Proceeds from the after party, a new addition to the event, will go to Marci Boysen, 42.
“We always had a banquet afterwards, but this year we’re kind of doing it different because the feedback we got was that people weren’t staying for the whole tourney because they were going home to get ready,” Fahrenbruch said. “It was like putting on two events in one day. Now, people can come to the after party at their leisure and when we found out Marci was diagnosed with her melanoma, the Dog House told us that whatever we wanted to charge for cover, we could take it and give it.”
The Sipe girls were coached in softball by their father, George, and the ability to mesh a favorite part of their childhood with the chance to help others seemed only natural. Fahrenbach said that every day when their father got home, they would go out to the softball fields to practice.
“It takes us a year to plan this,” she said of the softball tournament. “It’s an exhausting process but the rewards far outweigh the time and energy put into it. It’s the people we meet, the people we come back in contact with, the people we help that make it worth it. Knowing what Missy went through with her treatments and surgeries, people would just show up with food asking how they could help any way they could. So she kept saying, ‘I need to help people with this.’ We played softball all our lives and thought it would be a fun day. The response has been overwhelming. It’s a really emotional day for us. We’re already teasing each other, asking who has the most Kleenex coupons because we’re going to need them.”
In addition to the softball, there will be a Kids Zone with a petting zoo, pony rides, and carnival games.
Fahrenbruch said 300 players and volunteers are already slated to attend.
There will be two men’s teams playing in an exhibition game during the awards presentation immediately following the final game. There will also be a blood drive from noon to 3 p.m.
“We appreciate everybody that helps,” Fahrenbruch said. “Help us help others.”
For those unable to attend the event but wanting to make a contribution, monetary gifts may be mailed to the Sweet Melissa Foundation, 124 E. Northfield Dr., Ste. F #235, Brownsburg.
For more information about the foundation, visit the website at sweetmelissafoundation.org.
Just the facts
WHAT: Striking Out Cancer Ladies Softball Tournament
WHEN: 9 a.m. Aug. 25
WHERE: Brownsburg High School