Saturday afternoon, Hannah’s Hope hosted their 4th Annual Softball Slugfest, where some of the region’s finest players filled Valparaiso’s Old Fairgrounds Park with the sound of bats hitting leather as they duked it out to win the charity event’s tournament.
Hannah’s Hope is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing developmental equipment to children with special needs. Mike and Mary Martinez founded Hannah’s Hope in honor of their daughter, Hannah, who was born with special needs. Their efforts so far have raised over $300,000 thanks to their outstanding events like the Slugfest, which is organized and coordinated by Lisa Baisden every year.
“I’ve played softball since I was five years old,” said Baisden. “I reached out to Mike four years ago for help to get this started. I wanted to hit two of my passions, softball and helping kids, and Mike has done amazing things with Hannah’s Hope. So we’ve made great stride in all helping all kids, not just ones with special needs.”
18 teams participated in the event, taking over the four fields in Old Fairgrounds Park in their efforts to win the Men’s and Coed double elimination tournaments. Participants also battled in a home run derby, with high quality bats and more offered as prizes. Birky Family Farms Country Gourmet donated their time to provide concessions for the event. The players, who’s entry fees all went to helping Hannah’s Hope fulfill their mission, enjoyed the fun and the cause.
“It’s always great to give back to kids,” said Nathan Ramian, who came out and played with his team. “I’ve been playing for three or four years now, and if you’re not here you’re missing out. Lisa does great things for the community, so if you’re not here, come out next year.”
Lisa strives to improve the event every year, adding new prizes and activities to help draw in attendees. Raising awareness for Hannah’s Hope is just as important to Hannah’s Hope as fundraising; the more people know about the nonprofit, the more significant its reach is in the community.
“Any time I get a chance to share Hannah’s story and mission is a great day for us,” said Mike Martinez, Founder, Executive Director, and President of Hannah’s Hope. “We don’t have any specific funding goal for today. Anytime we host and event, there’s at least one person new to Hannah, Hannah’s Hope, and Hannah’s story. Any chance to share what we do as an organization is fantastic.”
Spreading the word through fun and sport is an important way for Hannah’s Hope to build the support it needs. Yet it also serves to give back to the community.
“Hannah’s Hope is important for anybody in the area,” said Baisden. “It stays local and it helps out kids, which is such a great passion of mine and of the area. Every year we get a little bit bigger and better, so I hope people come out so we can continue that trend.”
To learn more about Hannah’s Hope or to make a charitable donation, please visit www.hannahshope.org.