Wiffle Ball tournament raises money for Wyoming Area fourth-grader

By Ralph Nardone - For Times Leader
John Kotsko, 30, of Mountain Top, eyes the runner at first base during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament in Wilkes-Barre. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Jake Morra, 19, of Mountain Top, waits for a play in the outfield during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Joe Dougher, 22, of Wilkes-Barre, pitches during a charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE – The threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Wiffle Ball enthusiasts who gathered at Diamond City Park for the 14th annual Backyard Wiffle Ball League Charity Classic.

They were there to relive their glory days on the baseball diamond and to help a little girl who awaits a liver transplant.

Kevin Sickle, commissioner of the BWBL and event organizer said the group chose to help Kennedy Debo, a fourth-grade student who attends Wyoming Area Intermediate Center. She currently suffers from alagille syndrome.

“Kennedy is one of the most darling girls you could ever meet – she loves soccer, cheerleading, her family and Paris,” Sickle said.

When Kennedy’s parents, Lester Cobb and Falon Gilley, learned about the BWBL’s intentions, they were “overwhelmed with appreciation.”

All of the money raised at Saturday’s Wiffle Ball tournament will be used to help defray the cost of medical expenses Kennedy’s family faces. Along with tournament, there was a home run derby, a charity bean bag tournament held Friday night and concessions for the attendees.

All told $750 was raised.

The BWBL chose to help Kennedy when Daulton Shearer, a member of the BWBL Council, was made aware of her and her family’s needs through his connections with coaches from Wyoming Area’s hockey team, which recently held a benefit for Kennedy.

The BWBL is honored to help this family who have to deal with health issues for this young girl, Sickle said. They would rather help an individual instead of sending money to a large organization, he added.

There were eight teams competing with players ages 12 and up, with most players between 20 and 50 years of age, Sickle said. After an elimination, the top 5 teams battled it out for the championship. The winning team was the Blue Kamikazes. The team was made up of Michael VanNostrand, Jimmy Cole, Brett DeLano and Steve Tozzi, all from the Albany, N.Y., area; and Tom Gannon, of Auburn, Mass.

DeLano said Saturday’s event was the “most fun he ever had at a Wiffle Ball tournament.”

Eleven teams play in the BWBL during their regular season, Sickle said.

“Our game is popular because it allows players to relive the glory days of Little League, high school and/or college while playing a game they all played as kids, and meeting new friends along the way,” he said.

Sickle started the BWBL with the help of Tom Hannon 15 years ago. Once the interest grew, the group started to help people in need.

John Kotsko, 30, of Mountain Top, eyes the runner at first base during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL051418wiffleball2-1.jpgJohn Kotsko, 30, of Mountain Top, eyes the runner at first base during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Jake Morra, 19, of Mountain Top, waits for a play in the outfield during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL051418wiffleball3-1.jpgJake Morra, 19, of Mountain Top, waits for a play in the outfield during an annual charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Joe Dougher, 22, of Wilkes-Barre, pitches during a charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL051418wiffleball1-1.jpgJoe Dougher, 22, of Wilkes-Barre, pitches during a charity Wiffle Ball tournament at Diamond City Park in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
14th annual tournament aims to help fourth-grader

By Ralph Nardone

For Times Leader

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.