EVENT DATE: May 28, 2017
Dear WASL Members & Friends,
I struggled this week to find the appropriate words to introduce all of you to this year’s annual spring WASL fund raising soccer tournament to be held Memorial Day weekend, on Sunday May 28th from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
In our “early days” before reality visited our WASL world our tournaments fund raising efforts were geared toward physical facility enhancements which were somewhat self-serving: the whole community benefitted but so did WASL. We contributed to replacing the turf field, installing nighttime lights, raising the fencing around the field, fixing the scoreboard and sound system, buying new goals, new nets, endowing a youth soccer scholarship fund etc. etc, you get the idea. When one of our members got badly hurt in a game we focused for a couple of seasons on supporting our local EMS and Volunteer Fire Departments as they were the first ones on the scene to help the player out. It was more well-meaning but perhaps still a bit self-serving.
As our group aged and our children as well, more serious “grown up” issues crept into our world; reality hit us. A player’s son was suddenly sick with Leukemia, we played that year to benefit the St Baldrick’s foundation in his honor, he is doing very well thankfully. The brother of three of our players was struck shortly thereafter with Ewing’s Sarcoma, another form of cancer, we played that year for the “Be The Match” foundation, raised money and signed up 50 potentially life saving bone marrow donors that day as well. Happily that young man is also doing well. “Sandy Hook” happened and childhoods were shattered, that year we helped build a playground in honor of one those children who died that day, Dylan Hockley, it’s a beautiful facility in Westport where kids play daily at recess, surrounded by his memory, but just as ensconced in the innocence of youth as it should be. Shortly thereafter Weston lost three beautiful people one year to unrelated biking accidents, we played that year in their memory and helped fund the AJ Cina foundation and Domus of Stamford, supporting bike safety educational programs and helmets for those in need. It was sobering and I know those three fine people, one only 12, are missed daily and thought of often.
As our league matured, the goals for our charity events became clearer. We vocalized our intentions to stay local. We focus now on those most at risk and in need. We especially advocate for children and those whose voice might not otherwise be heard, and we make sure every dollar we raise gets put into true action, often at our direction.
In 2015 We came across the , an organization that focuses on mental health services for children and their families and is the largest providers of mental health care for children in our area serving over 2,000 individuals per year -- many of whom would not otherwise be able to afford treatment, therapy or clinical support. Left unattended, we have all learned in the past several years that mental illness begets unforgiving results.
In 2016, the adolescent and young adult mental health crisis in our country and the accompanying perils of opioid and heroin addiction hit our community especially hard when one of our players, who is also the son of one of our most respected “elders” overdosed shortly after New Year’s. Dan’s strength and will and the support of his incredible family have sustained his life against all odds: there is light in his eyes and Dennis can evoke a smile from Dan. A parent’s love has no boundaries and no guidebook, we have witnessed this thru Dennis and Beata daily. We played last year in Dan’s honor for whose goal is promoting the health and well-being of our children and their families. We wanted to stay with the mental health care programs so we supported a speaker series on drug awareness and education and mental health clinicians and paid for a survey of behavioral norms of 8th thru 12th graders that hopefully will guide future actions; we will learn some of the results of this survey very shortly. So that brings us to today, and 2017, and my loss for words because ….
…because ….Here we are again. Mental illness, depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, lack of coping skills, opioid addiction, heroin addiction, alcohol and drug abuse are rampant. These scourges are indiscriminating; much like a tornado that touches down in a quiet town uninvited but then without rhyme or reason destroys the lives of those on the left side of the street while leaving untouched those on the right hand side. No one can stop the tornado alone; it will destroy anything in its path. But if you can divert the path of the tornado, you can lessen the blow, maybe even avoid it completely. We want to help divert the path of the tornado known as mental illness that is ripping thru communities like ours all across the country. To that end we have decided this year to support a Fairfield County community organization called “” based in Westport which services Weston, Westport, Wilton, Fairfield, Norwalk and surrounding towns as well. is a nonprofit mental health agency led by Westonite Basil Hero. It was founded in 1971, and has been serving Fairfield County with prevention and counseling services to adults, families and adolescents ever since. They were in fact the group that ran the survey last year that we funded thru . From these surveys they learn what substances need to be targeted and then develop prevention programs and social norms campaigns to reduce drug and alcohol abuse amongst young people in the area. In addition to the counseling services they will employ whatever new funding we can provide to develop new prevention education programs that will help kids learn to make more intelligent choices when it comes to substance abuse. In addition to this 25% of the money we raise for will be directed to the run by that targets the most at risk youths, kids who have attempted suicide, have a history of substance abuse problems, have been hospitalized due to behavioral health issue etc. DBT is a 16 week intensive program that is highly effective yet also very expensive. More information from both groups will be distributed.
WASL’s Memorial Day weekend “Sunday” tournament has for the past 8 years been the centerpiece of our local fundraising efforts. We focus on a cause close to our collective hearts and one that we feel generally benefits children and young adults. The WASL Memorial Day weekend Sunday tournament in 2017 will be played to raise funds for
Our tournament will be on Sunday May 28th from 8AM to Noon. We will accept 64-68 players with 16 /17 on each team and each team will play three (3) fifty five (55) minute games. Lunch will follow at noon for all players and their families on the Weston lower turf field. The minimum requested donation to play is $60 dollars. We know much work needs to be done so anything above and beyond that if you are able would be greatly appreciated and much needed! We ask for non-players as well to consider supporting this year’s cause as it will benefit all of us and our children. We also ask each of you to share this email with 10 of your friends not captured by our mass email, especially younger people in town and surrounding towns with small children. Checks are to be made out to and sent to me Jon Pressman at 52 Ravenwood Drive, Weston, CT 06883 – Reply “in” if you are playing plus your shirt size and if you wish to be paired with a friend or relative on your team. Please also reply “in + 1,2,3,” if you will be joining us also for lunch afterwards with your family or alone. (You may also donate via our crowdrise link here; https://www.crowdrise.com/wasl-memorial-day-weekend-tournament-to-support-drug-awareness-prevention-and-mental-health/fundraiser/pressmanteam - or pay at the event.)
This year we will once again accept corporate sponsors for the back of the T shirts. Send in your company logo by Monday (5/15/17) if you want to be included on the back of the shirt. Whatever you or your company deems to be an appropriate dollar amount we will gratefully accept with a minimum sponsorship level of $250. A Huge thank you already to the fine attorneys at led by our own Phil Pires and Lauren Walters for again taking the lead sponsorship role. They are an amazing local firm and literally support dozens of local charities. I have used them personally as well and they come as advertised, which is to say they are awesome. Thank you as well to returning sponsor , unquestionable the finest house painting company in Fairfield County. We have also heard from led by Rich Kreger and they have as well proactively offered to be a sponsor, thank you Rich! Let’s keep it going guys.
Join WASL and please Do Something Good Today! Thank you ALL!