Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Jocelyn Kaufman spent the last few weeks begging for money.
"I asked a bunch of people for money," said the Stansbury High sophomore who brought the $135 she raised with her to this weekend's Swing For Life fundraising softball tournament at Cottonwood Complex. "Most everyone gave something. A bunch just gave like 25 cents. But it all helps."
No donation was too small for the catcher and second baseman who started her philanthropic efforts by crocheting hats and blankets for the homeless.
"I just learned how (to crochet), and I just started donating them," she said after her 4A team earned a 10-2 win over the No. 1-ranked 2A team, San Juan, Friday afternoon. "In Middle Canyon (by her home) there are a lot of homeless. It feels good when I do it. I've always wanted to be involved in community service. I just want to help people out."
So when her softball coach, Bridgett Clinton, told the girls they were going to raise money and play in the softball tournament that benefits Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Kaufman went to work raising money.
"I think this is cool," Kaufman said amid snow flurries that punctuated a wild-weather day and threatened to cancel the 9th Annual event. "I wish there was more stuff like this. When you think about it, you could be saving someone's life."
That is exactly the message co-founder of Swing For Life, Kathy Howa, hopes the young players get from the weekend, which includes softball, fundraising and awareness and education activities.
Howa arrived at Cottonwood Complex Friday morning and was discouraged by what she saw. Her greatest fear — that months of raising money, weeks of practice, and hours of driving for the rural schools — would be in vain as weather woes forced cancellation of the games.
"We walked onto the field and it was like a skating rink," Howa said. "We waited for an hour, and then thought maybe we could get some dirt."
She praised the grounds crew at the Complex for working the fields fast and effectively so the teams could play their scheduled games.
"We got to play," said Howa, who coaches Rowland Hall's softball team. "We had (snow) flurries all day, but we got all the games in."
Snow did force Howa to suspend her game against Duchesne in the afternoon, but she said they planned to play the final two innings Saturday morning.
"It would be really cool if this (snow) would just go away, and we could play a fun day tomorrow," she said. "It's supposed to be better — just cold. Everyone has been troopers."
Milford High made the three-hour drive for the second year in a row.
"This has been one of my most memorable (events), and most memorable for all of the girls, of the whole softball season," said head coach Jen Harris. "We love this. It's fun; it's for a good cause."
Last year the team relied strictly on donations, but this year they made and sold scratch cards that offered small prizes to winners.
"We raised about $1,000," she said. "We don't live in a large community (215 children in grades 7-12), but we had great support. We even had support at our games today, which was nice."
Harris said the conditions made the day interesting, but they were grateful for the experience — on and off the field.
"Our pitcher fell down a couple of times, but it was great fun," she said. "We loved it."
The team's fundraising effort was led by Dannie Harris, Makaylee Craw, Shyla Sherwood, Kennedy Metto, Jordan Myers, Kylee Bridge and Makell Davis. They received big support from Kenneth Harris and Green Diamond Ranch. Milford has to compete in a 2A region, but had the chance to play 1A schools like Altamont and Duchesne in Friday's tournament.
"It's better competition and fun for the girls," said Harris, who planned to spend the night in the gymnasium at Rowland Hall High with about eight other teams. Howa had an awareness video and games planned in a tradition that started the first year of the tournament.
"I think we gain a lot of, No. 1, softball experience," said Harris. "No. 2, we all talked last year, and we gained a lot of awareness on breast cancer. In our small community we have two people fighting breast cancer."
The Tournament expands to three sites Saturday — Cottonwood Complex, Valley Complex and the South Jordan Softball Fields. The opening ceremonies will be held at 1 p.m. at Cottonwood Complex, where all of the teams will gather for a special ceremony that honors the teams involved and cancer survivors. Donations can be made to any participating teams or by buying merchandise at the softball fields.
Salt Lake Community College will host a pink game at their field in Taylorsville next Saturday.
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