May 18, 2013 – Hillsdale, NJ is a small town with a big heart. Team Kohan has held several fundraisers since we started participating in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk but we wanted to do something different this year. There never seems to be enough time to think of a new fundraiser or to follow through because we are always running our kids to different sports activities. Then, while sitting at one of those activities, it hit me. One of the largest sports associations in our town is our baseball/softball league. Why not hold a baseball/softball tournament of some kind? I met with our town Recreation Director, Patty Hughes and with Abby Lund, President of the Baseball and Softball Association, and “Play for Parkinson’s” was created! Abby was eager to help – she had a concept all ready. She set up a 3-inning single elimination tournament for kids in grades 3-6 and a homerun derby for those kids in grades 7-8. We had trophies donated for the winners, decorated all the fields with balloons, and had food for sale during all the games. Then our Town Recreation Director and Swim Club Manager agreed to let us expand our fundraiser and end our day with swimming at our town pool. We had music, food, swimming, a donated bouncy house, and plenty of fun for all! Shop Rite donated all the hamburgers and hotdogs and we even had pizza donated by our local Papa Johns!!
We reached out to a local t-shirt designer that we’ve worked with several times – Pentland Graphics in Woodcliff Lake - and Betty the owner was happy to design and donate 50 t-shirts for us to use as giveaways. Our family wore them and gave the rest out to the kids and adults. It’s an honor to see the kids wearing the t-shirts even after the event is over and touches our hearts.
We decided that a $10 donation was a good price to play in the games and it also allowed each child entrance to the pool. For those that just wanted to come to the Swim Club, the donation was $20 per adult and $10 per child.
We advertised through the Baseball and Softball leagues, local schools, and town papers, and made flyers that we posted at local businesses. We then went to area businesses looking for prize donations. With it being a small town, you can imagine that this was the toughest part. Businesses are hit up daily for donations and for them to add us to the list was not an easy task. We started asking for donations about 5 months in advance and managed to get about 45 donations of all kinds - food, gift cards, movie and play tickets, bowling, and all the way up to being Mayor for a Day and Police Chief for a Day! After getting all our items set, we just waited for the day to come.
Advertising was the key! Our town uses Community Pass for sport sign ups as well as Pool membership and our town camps. Our town promoted our event through their e-alerts that notify residents of town events and happenings. We used all these to generate weekly emails as a reminder of the event and even advertised on our town electronic board.
When word got out, we had well over 250 kids signed up to play. If a child could not afford the donation, the Baseball/Softball Association took care of the fee. We had several people volunteer to sell food and work the event in whatever capacity we needed.
Our pool event met with bad weather but we still had over 50 people attend and well….even though it rained, kids still enjoyed the pool, the jumpy castle, and food and the prizes were a HUGE hit! All of these items were donated so there was no cost to us! We even had John’s Air-Brush set up a booth and sell customized t-shirts for the kids!
The whole day was a huge success, and we raised $3700 for Team Kohan! We met so many people from our own town and heard stories of those who have been or are affected by Parkinson’s. Everyone was so supportive and the biggest compliment was parents telling me how excited the kids were to play. At the end of the day, they were asking when we will be holding the event next year.
So with that said – “Play for Parkinson’s” will be an annual event to watch for!