The 2012 SLAMDiabetes Summer Classic takes over Little Fenway and Little Wrigley

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Wiffle® ball tournament raising public awareness and funds for T1D research played in Essex, Vermont

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The majority of people who came to watch and play had little understanding of T1D; they just came to have fun. But by tournament’s end, they all took away more insight about T1D, and became friends in the fight.

Beginning on Friday, June 29, the 2012 SLAMDiabetes Summer Classic pitted twelve teams against each other for Wiffle® ball bragging rights in a two-day tournament that raised nearly $40,000. Funds will support public awareness campaigns throughout 2012 and 2013, “camperships” for kids with T1D to attend summer camps where they can learn to better manage their disease, a T1D Continuing Education Course for school nurses in Vermont, and T1D research programs at MIT.

Over 500 Wiffle® ball fans and players attended the Summer Classic on Friday and Saturday, and they couldn’t have asked for better weather. Fans gathered in chairs and under tents around the sun-soaked fields while watching teams battle through 7-inning Wiffle® ball games complete with colorful commentary by guest announcers from ESPN Radio 101.3. Players ranged in age from middle school to senior citizenry and local food vendors provided snacks and drinks throughout the weekend.

Tournament games were played in Little Fenway and Little Wrigley in Essex, Vermont, two custom-built Wiffle® ball stadiums that are ¼-scale replicas of MLB© stadiums whose names they share. The stadiums are in the back yard of Pat and Beth O’Connor and are used for charity events year-round.

"It was a magical weekend of fun at Little Fenway. The players, volunteers, and sponsors teamed up to hit a home run in the fight against T1D,” said Pat O’Connor. “With this kind of momentum, the SLAMDiabetes tournaments will undoubtedly continue to grow and attract more people to fight this disease."

The Summer Classic championship was won by hometown favorite the Essex Otters, while the Green Mountain Bombers took home the award for most funds raised. The team spirit award was given to the Purple Pumpers, whose white and purple striped knee-high socks and purple hair dye both distracted and intimidated their opponents. The Summer Classic also featured a Home Run Derby, which was won by Josh Fitzgerald of the Momentum Maulers with four homers.

“The turnout and support at this year’s Summer Classic was special,” says Jeff Kolok, who co-founded SLAMDiabetes and ParentingDiabeticKids.com with his wife Natalie. “The majority of people who came to watch and play had little understanding of T1D; they just came to have fun. But by tournament’s end, they all took away more insight about T1D, and became friends in the fight.”

“We congratulate the Essex Otters on capturing the Championship, especially in such dramatic last-inning fashion. They’re a tremendous group, from their players and captain Tyler Warren to their rabid fans in left field,” says Kolok.

ESPN Radio 101.3 broadcasted live from the tournament throughout the weekend, and Champ, the mascot of local minor-league baseball team Vermont Lake Monsters, also made an appearance.
Game tickets and autographed memorabilia were donated by Boston Celtics great Ray Allen, Toronto Blue Jays star pitcher Brandon Morrow and Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Bill Lee.
Three more Wiffle® ball tournaments are scheduled for summer 2012, in addition to a growing schedule of tournaments for 2013.

SLAMDiabetes will host the Bay Sox Foundation Tournament in New Bedford, MA on July 21, followed by the Rhode Island Classic in Providence on August 11. The 2012 season will come to a close in Boston on August 18 with the Boston Classic, but the 2013 season will begin in January on short rest with tournaments in cities from Florida to Vermont—all raising awareness and funds to combat T1D.

Stay tuned to http://www.slamdiabetes.com, Facebook, and Twitter for announcements of celebrity guests, special activities, and important tournament announcements. You can follow SLAMDiabetes on social media at facebook.com/slamdiabetesnow and on Twitter at twitter.com/slamdiabetesnow.

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Alicia De Martini
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