The 14th annual Travis Roy Foundation Vermont Wiffle Ball Tournament concluded Sunday in Essex, raising $546,023 as of the end of the tournament.
It’s the second time the funds raised at the backyard tourney went past the half-million mark for the foundation named after the former Boston University hockey player who suffered a severe spinal cord injury 20 years ago this October.
This year’s fundraising effort beat the previous high of $505,000 set in 2013. The tournament has brought in over $1.5 million the past three years combined, bringing the 14-year total over $3.5 million. All proceeds go to the foundation that benefits and creates awareness for people with spinal cord injuries.
“How can you make something perfect better?” asked Roy in his emotional and inspirational remarks to the participants on Saturday, according to a press release. “You come here and walk around. You take a swing, you eat some food, you meet some friends and you get to experience the magic. The magic comes from energy, and then it explodes right here. We are all lucky to be part of it.”
“This year ‘The Best Weekend of the Year’ turned out to be the best tournament ever,” added Roy on Sunday, reflecting on this year’s event theme. “The fantastic effort from so many people is greatly appreciated from all of us.”
The highly attended 28-team weekend tournament was held at Pat and Beth O’Connor’s three fields in Essex — Little Fenway, Little Wrigley and Little Field of Dreams — all quarter-scale replicas of the nation’s iconic ballparks.
It began Friday night with legendary former Boston University men’s hockey coach Jack Parker, Roy’s coach with the Terriers, throwing out the first pitch and concluded with the Jackhammers of Braintree, Mass. winning their third team title in Sunday’s championship game.
“Once again I really would like to thank our participants, volunteers, donors and especially our community for yet another tremendous weekend,” said Pat O’Connor, according to the press release. “All of us are so proud to be alongside Travis and his cause.”
A rain shower prior to Friday’s openers was the only weather blemish as the sun shined the remainder of the weekend.
On a very warm Sunday, the Jackhammers capped a highly competitive but fair-played tournament with a 16-5 rout of the defending champion Staten Island Yankees, fueled by seven homers by six different players and solid pitching by the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Tim Harrington.
Leading the Jackhammers was their inspirational captain Jack Shadduck, who like Roy is disabled following a severe spinal cord injury.
Off the field, the Boston Beef collected its ninth-straight Fan Club Award for the team with the largest fundraising effort, one of several teams that raised over $30,000.
The other major award-winners were Isaac Downs of Curse Lifted Generations and Essex Junction, one of the younger participants who picked up the Kim Trahan Fundraising Leadership Award for creativity, leadership and innovation. Billy Doyle of Waltham, Mass. and the Boston Beef, an original tournament team, took home the Tommy Long Sportsmanship Award. And Hank Hayes of Essex, who heads up the tournament’s financial committee, was inducted into the Little Fenway Hall of Fame.
Also on hand all weekend was a television crew from ESPN that is filming an E:60 special on Roy that will air this October around the 20th anniversary of the accident that ended his hockey career after just 11 seconds on the ice for BU.
For more information on the Travis Roy Foundation, log on to www.travisroyfoundation.org.