MILLSTON—Thirty-seven years have passed since the first Millston Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Softball Tournament began.
Over the course of a three-day Labor Day weekend, 16 teams have battled it out for bragging rights and to raise funds to send children with muscular dystrophy to summer camp.
This year’s tournament is Sept. 1-3, and organizers hope to have another banner fund-raising year. In 2017 the tournament raised $17,260. The weekend begins on Saturday, Sept. 1 with the softball tournament games beginning at 8 a.m. with a live auction being held at 3 p.m.
Sue Marcou, who organizes the event, said the tournament began as a battle between bars − Sportsman’s Bar in Tomah and Trail’s End Bar in Millston. A group of men got together and decided to play a game together for fun, and at the end of the game they passed around a hat and collected $250, which was donated to MDA.
The whole weekend is about charity, Marcou said. Nobody wins any money; it’s all for bragging rights and to have fun — so they can send a child to have fun at camp for a week.
The live auction lasts about three hours, Marcou said. Items donated for the event come from community members and businesses. Each oftball team, as part of its entry fee, is required to donate something for the auction.
Softball games continue beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, along with a volleyball tournament. Sign-up for volleyball begins at 9:30 a.m., and the cost is $30 per team with play starting at 10 a.m. A horseshoe tournament will begin at noon, with registration at 11 a.m., which costs $5.
Monday, Sept. 3 activities will begin at noon with a .1K Walk for MDA, registration is $20 and include a free t-shirt for the first 100. This is the second year of the .1K Walk, Marcou said. She described it as a fun event.
“It’s 109 yards, and my mother ... who lives in Tomah and will be 89 in September, is planning on walking again,” Marcous said. “We have water and freezie pops at the finish line, little band-aids for blisters ... and people cheering for them as they go on, and then we have finish line art made out of an old volleyball net with balloons and the sponsors’ names.”
Forty-four walkers participated in the walk in 2017, and Marcou hopes to have 100 or more this year.
The championship softball game begins at 3 p.m. Monday, along with a raffle.
Some of the items included in the raffle are Wisconsin Badger tickets donated by Torkelson Funeral Home in Tomah and a lawn mower donated by Toro of Tomah.
A sawdust pile will be available for children ages 12 and under all weekend. Donated coins will be tossed in the pile at various times throughout the weekend, and children will have the opportunity to search for them.
“It’s just something fun for them to do,” Marcou said. “Also there are poker chips in there. ... If they find one, they will win a special prize like sidewalk chalk or bubbles or little coloring books or things like that.” Culver’s of Tomah has also donated free scoop tokens we can give to the kids when it’s all done.”
Also, for the third year Samuel Sedelbauer, 8, of Hixton will be the “poster boy” for the weekend. Sedelbauer was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy three years ago.
Betsy Sedelbauer, Samuel’s mother, is appreciative for the fundraiser and to all the teams that participate.
“The tournament’s great; just the camaraderie with players is great,” she said. “Samuel played rookie ball last year and ... was on the Black River Falls team, and meeting these guys and talking to them was fun ... they built Samuel up, so that’s huge.”
Sedelbauer is grateful that the tournament supports the MDA summer camp, which her son attends. She said camp activities include horseback and Nerf gun wars.
“The big thing is it gives parents a break for the week,” she said. “That’s huge because … its 24/7 care and ... for parents it really allows us to take a week off from all that and to regenerate to provide care for our boy’s need. ... It lets kids participate in all the activities so they don’t feel left out and can be with other kids their age.”
Marcou said it costs about $2,000 to send a child to camp for a week, which covers the costs of medications, medical equipment and medical staff needed for the week.