ESSEX, Vt. (WFFF) — A longtime tradition returns for the 20th, and final time, to Vermont, this summer.
The tournament runs this weekend from Friday to Sunday. More than 300 players will compete on three fields: Little Fenway, Little Wrigley, and the Field of Dreams. Teams will play three times until a champion is crowned.
“The camaraderie that goes on here is very, very unique. And as Travis said, there’s just magic here in what used to be a cow field,” said Lee Roy, Travis Roy’s father. “You have to see it to truly understand what goes on out here. It’s so special.”
The annual Travis Roy Foundation Whiffle Ball Tournament has raised nearly $6.4 million to help people with spinal cord injuries. This year, organizers hope to raise $1 million. Lee said the tournament is a testament to his son’s strength, kindness, and philanthropy.
The event is named after the former Boston University men’s hockey player who was paralyzed in 1995 after suffering a spinal cord injury. Shortly after the accident, Travis dedicated his life to helping other spinal cord survivors. He passed away in October 2020 at the age of 45.
“Travis’ wishes were to shut the foundation down as it has been (around) for the past 25 years,” Lee said. “So we’re following his wishes.”
The annual Whiffle Ball Tournament, which began in 2001, grew to be the foundation’s largest fundraiser. Brian Irish, who was seriously injured in a car accident that left him quadriplegic, hasn’t missed a game since 2009. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Irish, who ran a candle business for 26 years. He says he had close shop because pressure sores made it painful to use his stair chair.
“I was told I couldn’t go downstairs to make them anymore, so when I heard about the Travis Roy Foundation, I decided to donate all my candles to them to raise money,” Irish said. “They came in and talked to me and said, ‘Is there anything we can do for you.'”
The foundation gave him a $13,000 for a new platform lift so Irish could go downstairs while staying in his wheelchair. “One less obstacle to conquer,” he said. Irish plans to attend the tournament in August and to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and the final year that the foundation will sponsor the games.
Click here for more details and fundraising progress.
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