news 2 days ago

THANKS to host its last snowball tournament

Monroe News, Mich. — Paula Wethington Monroe News, Mich.

Feb. 14-- Feb. 14--The Snowball Tournament and Winterfest run by THANKS Inc. is coming to an end, although the nonprofit organization itself expects to continue.

The 20th and final Winterfest opens tonight and continues through Sunday afternoon at Ida Firemen's Park, behind Ida Township Hall and Ida Township fire hall on Lewis Avenue in Ida.

THANKS Inc. stands for Tailgaters Helping Aid Needy Kids' Spirits. President Tim Russeau said the organization hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as a golf tournament, but the softball tournament was the signature event. While it was the group's biggest money maker, it was also a lot of work and basically the same group of people have been involved all this time.

No one expected the softball tournament to last 20 years, he added; four or five years was the most realistic timeline.

The first snowball tournament was held in 1998 as an ad hoc fundraiser for Jamie Davis, who had brain cancer. She died a few months afterward.

Afterward, Russeau said, other families asked if they could be eligible for such assistance. Those conversations sparked what became THANKS Inc.

The annual tournament officially began in 2000 in memory of Jamie, in support of Monroe-area families whose children also were facing serious medical issues. While multiple families often do get assistance with medical bills, vehicle expenses and other needs, the sponsor child is the one 'who generally receives the most financial help during the year,' the THANKS website explains.

This year's sponsor child is Channing Rhoads, who was born Nov. 21, 2018. He has Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease and had both kidneys removed when he was 5 days old. As a result of that and other medical issues, he spent more than 150 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor, before he came home. His family hopes that he will be able to get a kidney transplant in the coming months.

The idea of adding other activities evolved over time, said Russeau, as the committee members brainstormed ways that friends and family members of softball players could be involved with the fundraising. This year's event, for example, includes a steak dinner, cornhole tournament live music and a 'pallet painting' project.

'If people are spending all day there, we'd have to add more events,' he said.

The weather also made this event difficult to plan for. The 1998 softball tournament took place in early spring, he said. But they knew when picking a permanent date that they'd be competing for attention among other events. They deliberately picked February, an otherwise quiet time on the local calendars.

There was the year when they played with 12 inches of snow on the ground, Russeau said, another year when there was 'six inches of mud' on the ground. 'We definitely prefer the snow,' he added.

The only time it was canceled happened to be a year when freezing rain topped the snow and they were dealing with ice.

THANKS traditions include the Johnnie Trophy, named in memory of Gary 'Johnnie' Cinglie, one of the founding members of the organization. It's a traveling trophy that goes to the team or group that raises the most money for the cause. There will be 24 teams participating this year in the softball games.

Looking over the run, he said they have a lot to be proud of.

' The community has been great for us. We want to thank them for all the support over the years,' Russeau added. 'We'll just kind of see where it goes.'

For more information about the tournament or organization, go to www.thanksinc.com.

THANKS TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

TODAY

-- 4 p.m.: Doors open.

-- 4-10 p.m.: Concession stand open with burgers, hot dogs, soups, fries, nachos and more.

-- 4 p.m.-midnight: Raffles and 50/50.

-- 5-8 p.m.: Steak dinner, cook your own style.

-- 6-8 p.m.: Bluegrass music by Tim Ellis & Friends.

-- 8 p.m.-midnight: The Lazy River Band.

SATURDAY

-- 8 a.m.-6 p.m.: Snowball tournament.

-- 8 a.m.-10 p.m.: Concession stand open.

-- 8 a.m.-midnight: Raffles and 50/50.

-- Noon-3 p.m.: Magic show, crafts, face painting for kids in Ida Branch Library's community room.

-- Noon: Cornhole tournament sign-in; games begin at 1 p.m.

-- 1-4 pm.: Wine and Canvas in Toledo, advance registration required.

-- 1-5 p.m.: TV's Karaoke and DJ featuring Tony Vasquez.

-- 4-8 p.m.: Euchre tournament sign-in; games begin at 5.

-- 5-8 p.m.: All-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner.

-- 5-8 p.m.: Music by Sean Latzko.

-- 8 p.m.-midnight: Temperance Tonic Band.

SUNDAY

-- 8 a.m.-4 p.m.: Snowball tournament.

-- 8 a.m.-3 p.m.: Concessions and raffles.

-- 8:30-10:30 a.m.: All-you-can-eat country breakfast, pavilion.

-- Noon-4 p.m.: TV's Karaoke and DJ featuring Tony Vasquez.

-- Noon-3 p.m.: Pallet Painting; advance registration required.

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