Twelve softball teams played on four fields for a good cause in a tournament at Sand Creek Park, Coon Rapids, Saturday.The charity event raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, specifically for its summer camp program for children.
Several of the 12 teams taking part in the tournament were from public safety agencies, according to Bryan Platz, a Coon Rapids Police officer and the chief organizer of the tournament.
Those teams included the Coon Rapids Guns & Hoses, which comprised Coon Rapids police and fire personnel, and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Rum River Lawmen, who jointly sponsored the tournament.
But there were also teams of teachers as well as Walgreens and Allina Health employees, plus The Mudpuppies, a Twin Cities-based team the comprised family members of Platz.
In addition, the Minnesota National Hockey League Alumni fielded a team at the tournament. Players included Sean Toomey, Brad Maxwell, Jack Carlson, John Perpich and Joe Dziedzic.
According to Platz, the Coon Rapids Guns & Hoses annually plays a benefit hockey game against the Minnesota National Hockey League Alumni to raise money for the food shelf.
The alumni team was delighted to take part in the tournament when asked by Platz, said Toomey, who played hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth, then with the old Minnesota North Stars and in Europe – Finland, Sweden and Switzerland – and is now vice president of the alumni organization.
The group was formed 20 years ago by Tom Reid, former North Stars defenseman and now Minnesota Wild broadcaster, Toomey said.
Maxwell now heads the organization, he said.
The purpose of the organization is to “give back to the community” by participating in charity events throughout the year, according to Toomey.
For example, the alumni group has raised money to purchase automated external defibrillators, which have been installed in seven ice arenas, Toomey said.
“We are quite active and love these types of events,” he said.
Besides money raised from the tournament itself, half the proceeds from the concession stand at Sand Creek Park, which was operated by members of the Coon Rapids North Star Lions Club during the event, were earmarked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and some $1,500 was collected prior to the tournament through online donations, Platz said.
Platz had a personal reason for being involved in the tournament.
His son, Owen, 5, has muscular dystrophy and he will be eligible next year to attend the summer camp, which is free for children with muscular dystrophy, Platz said.
“It is my way of giving back to an organization that provides great support to families who have kids with muscular dystrophy,” he said.
Indeed, the event was named the Owen’s Hope Softball Tournament.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is a voluntary national health agency, a partnership between scientists and concerned citizens aimed at conquering neuromuscular diseases that affect more than a million Americans.
According to Wikipedia, muscular dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system and hamper locomotion.
They are characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins and the death of muscle cells and tissue, Wikipedia states.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]