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Dodgeball tournament enrolling teams

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
Cheryl Laws of South Charleston, left, the organizer of the upcoming dodgeball tournament in South Charleston, throws a ball as Julie Wirts prepares to throw one of her own.
Kimberly Warner of South Hills throws a ball as Cheryl Laws of South Charleston prepares to throw another one. Laws is organizing an inaugural dodgeball tournament March 18 at the South Charleston Community Center. Registration is underway for teams to participate.
BUTCH COOPER | Metro Mia Manfredi of Charleston’s East End throws a ball as she prepares for the inaugural dodgeball tournament March 18 at the South Charleston Community Center. Registration for teams is underway through March 8.
Amy Teter of South Hills practices with her team.

Dodgeball is a sport perhaps best known as the bruise-inducing bane of many youngsters in school Phys.Ed. classes and on playgrounds -- or in a more twisted turn with adult players from the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn 2004 film comedy, “DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.”

Later this month, however, the game can be a game-changer for area families seeking to restore lives damaged by drug abuse.

An inaugural dodgeball tournament will be held on Saturday, March 18 at the South Charleston Community Center on Jefferson Road in South Charleston. Proceeds from the tourney will support Pollen8, which is also presenting the first-time event.

Pollen8 is a nonprofit organization that serves as an umbrella for social programs that assist West Virginia families affected by drugs throughout every stage of treatment. Cheryl Laws, the founder and CEO of Pollen8, said, “The dodgeball tournament is to raise funds to contribute to a summer camp program for elementary-age, at-risk youth in South Charleston, called Camp Appalachia.”

A South Charleston resident, Laws started the Charleston office of Pollen8 in 2015. “We build social programs for families who may lose their children to due to drug addiction. It’s an interorganizational collaboration with the City of South Charleston, the South Charleston Housing Authority, Pollen8, Kanawha Communities That Care, Bridgeview and Richmond elementary schools, Rock Lake Presbyterian Church and St. Paul United Methodist Church,” she explained.

“When we deal with addiction, our whole program is holistic. We don’t just treat the kids or the addicts, we treat the entire family. So, we had to think outside of the box for fundraisers, since we’re promoting families. My nephew participated in a dodgeball tournament in Putnam County. It was just so much fun and I remembered that.”

Dodgeball games will start at 10 a.m. March 18 at the rec center. Teams of eight players can register, in four categories: men, women, co-ed and teen. The entry fee is $80 per team, and fans can cheer on the teams for a $2 donation or a donation of canned food at the event, which will include a concession stand.

Twenty-two teams are being sought to compete.

“It’s going to be a round-robin tournament,” Laws said. “We’ll randomly match everybody up for the first game and then have a winners’ bracket and a losers’ bracket. Then the winners of the winners’ and losers’ brackets games will play each other. Everybody plays two games, but it could be three or more.”

Participants, spectators and other supporters can enter a pair of fundraising drawings, as well. For $25, each entrant will receive five chances to win a gift certificate to area restaurants, such as Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille, Lola’s, Pies & Pints, First Watch, Celsius, Baskin-Robbins of Kanawha City, Tricky Fish, the Bluegrass Kitchen, Ridgeview BBQ, Blues BBQ, Ms. Groovy’s Kitchen, Sam’s Uptown Cafe and Paterno’s at the Park. Gift certificates from No Limit Fitness, Robin DeMarchi, Kasey Morris and Bruce Whitten will also be bestowed.

A grand prize drawing is being offered, as well. For a $50 chance garnering five tickets, the luckiest entrants can win a $100 gift certificate to Centered Pilates in Charleston; a rafting trip for two, courtesy of ACE Adventures; two, full-face Botox treatments from Jackson and Wood Plastic Surgery and a “staycation” in South Charleston, which includes a free, one-night stay at the new Holiday Inn and Suites, and a dinner at The Olive Tree Cafe and Catering.

Tournament sponsorship opportunities are also available to support the Pollen8 cause. At presstime, sponsors included the BW3 in Cross Lanes, Steptoe & Johnson, the Shape Shop, Peoples Federal Credit Union and Preston & Salango, PLLC.

Registration for the dodgeball tournament is due by Wednesday, March 8. Checks, for $80 per team, should be made out to “Pollen8,” and entries should include the team’s name, team captain’s name and email address and the names and T-shirt sizes of each of the players. Entries can be mailed to: Pollen8, 815 Quarrier St., Charleston, W.Va. 25301.

Laws added that a follow-up kickball tournament/fundraiser is being planned for the last week in August, right before children return to school in the fall.

For questions or donations or sponsorships for the dodgeball tournament, call 304-389-0803.

For more information about the Pollen8 program and its services, email or visit online.


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