Local softball players host tournament to benefit Toys For Tots

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- When it comes to the holidays, Damien Sandoval says one thought prevails.

"There should always be toys around the Christmas tree. There should be no child left without a toy," Sandoval said.

With that belief in mind, Sandoval reached out to other softball players in Wichita and asked them to be a part of a tournament he and others were reviving.

"Everybody was wanting to come together for it," Sandoval said.

That wasn't a surprise. After all, coming together to help all kinds of people and good causes is what many softball players in Wichita say they pride themselves on.

"We are a very tight-knit community. A lot of people coin us as a family," Sandoval said.

When members of that Wichita softball family have gone through hard times, they've organized benefit tournaments to help one another. That's what they did after the tornado in Moore, Okla. and that's what they did Saturday in Wichita to help local children.

"There are a lot of people that participate and it's a big thing out here in Wichita," softball player Cari Weber said.

In Wichita's Linwood Park Saturday, they hosted the first annual "Joy 4 Toys Tournament." The tournament benefits the Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program.

Similar tournaments had been held in the past, but Sandoval, the new tournament director, says they wanted to do something different this year.

The new-look tournament featured co-ed teams, dressed in holiday garb, competing in a "duck-soup" style. "Duck soup" means players had some interesting choices when it came to how to play the game.

"One pitch innings, bat backwards or run backwards innings," Sandoval said. "It makes it a lot more fun."

Fifteen teams (more than 150 players total) showed up for that fun. Admission for each player was $10 and a gift for a child. The softball players filled six giant Toys for Tots boxes with donations.

"It's great. There are a lot of toys, a lot of support out there today," Weber said.

It's a showing of support that Sandoval hopes doesn't end here. He says he wants the Wichita softball family to take a swing at helping children for many years to come.

"I want to see this tournament grow every year," Sandoval said. "I think honestly, with the way it's gone this year, it will."


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