Seldom has one baseball game meant so much to so many. The first Tribute to our Troops Baseball Game at Cheney Stadium on April 16th (3 PM) will highlight not only the healthy rivalry between South Kitsap and Gig Harbor High Schools, it will also unite the community in an emotional tribute to fallen soldiers and their families. While the four-time state champion South Kitsap Wolves will try to defend their 2015 state title against rival Gig Harbor Tides, the real story is the cause that underlies the big game.
Hosted by the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation in partnership with Gig Harbor Boosters, the game has a mission of healing at its core; to remember and honor 48 local soldiers who gave their lives during Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Vietnam and the Korean War. To visually express this sentiment, when the teams take the field, each of the 48 players and coaches will be wearing special edition camo print uniforms embroidered with the name and rank of a soldier from the Kitsap and Key Peninsulas.
The foundation has worked with local military support groups to contact the families of as many of these troops as possible, and invited those families to be special guests of honor at the game. Following the game, players from each school will present their jerseys to those families in attendance.
The ceremonies will be opened with a keynote speech from Washington State Representative Jesse Young, and followed by a Presentation of the colors by the South Kitsap ROTC. The National Anthem will be performed by the South Kitsap High School Choir.
Always doing good: Front row (L to R): Josh Sewell, Foundation Executive Director, Sharon Goodwin, Director, Arlond Goodwin, President. Back row (L to R): Matt Murphy, Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Dan & Mandy Pieze of Dana’s Heating & Cooling, presenting sponsor.
Joshua Sewell, Executive Director of the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation, sees the event as a natural outgrowth of their mission: “Elton was an active supporter of not only youth athletics, but also our men and women in uniform. Both the South Kitsap and Gig Harbor communities are heavily supported by military and DOD families; and our board has been looking for quite some time for an event that could showcase our support of these groups. We are proud to be partnering with the Gig Harbor Booster Club, SecurityNational Mortgage, and the Tacoma Rainiers to bring you the first annual Tribute to our Troops Baseball Game; and are honored to be able to pay tribute to these proud American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be here playing baseball today.”
SecurityNational Mortgage Company is stepping up to the plate with the title sponsorship. Todd Bruess, Regional Manager, said, “SecurityNational Mortgage is incredibly honored to be the title sponsor of this event. It is bigger than anything else we could ever do.”
For Bruess, the event is personal: “As the grandson of a military hero, Colonel John F. Carey of the Marine Corp, this is just a small way to thank him and the rest of the men and women that we can never thank enough.”
Tom Burghardt, Volunteer Coordinator of Gig Harbor Tides Baseball, expresses hope this is the first of many games: “The Gig Harbor Tides baseball team players, coaches, and parents are excited and honored to participate in the inaugural Tribute to the Troops Game. We hope this becomes a yearly tradition to honor our fallen heroes while in the service to our country.”
Following the game, players will present their jerseys to military families during a brief ceremony.
Additionally, a contest is being held between South Kitsap & Gig Harbor Little Leagues to see who can bring the most guests. The winner will receive an additional $500 grant from the Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation for their 2016 season.
The Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation provides thousands of dollars each year in scholarships to South Kitsap senior baseball and fast pitch players and special needs students. They also provide low income subsidy grants to local Little League. In 2015 they donated $15,000 to South Kitsap School District for new electronic scoreboards for the SKHS Baseball Field and fast pitch field.
The foundation is the recipient of the 2015 Nonprofit of the Year Award from Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce and Key Partnership Award from the South Kitsap School District. They are also the force behind the Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Grand Slam Community Picnic and Fall Dinner, and Charity Auction.
Proceeds from the event benefit American Legion Post 30 in Port Orchard, American Legion Post 236 in Gig Harbor, Elton Goodwin Memorial Foundation, and Gig Harbor Boosters.
According to Sewell, “At all of our events each year, we select a secondary group in which to raise funds on behalf of; and we could not be more excited about supporting our partners at the American Legion. American Legion has a proud history of supporting not only our troops in, (and out of) uniform; but also a longstanding commitment to youth baseball. Raising funds on their behalf is a natural extension of our support of youth athletics, and we are honored to be making a charitable contribution to this amazing organization.”
Bruess, of SecurityNational Mortgage Company agrees: “The debt we owe these men and women is far greater than what we are doing here today, but if we can help, I want to do that. The bravest men and women in this state are right here on our military bases.”
Date: Saturday, April 16
Game Time: 3 PM
Parking and admission at Cheney Stadium are free, but color-coded tickets (maroon camo for South Kitsap, blue camo for Gig Harbor) are being distributed as part of a sales contest between the South Kitsap & Gig Harbor Little Leagues. The tickets will be tallied during the game, and the Little League group who brings the most guests will receive a $500 Grant for their 2016 season.
Sponsorships are available by contacting the foundation at 360-874-2929 or by emailing Josh Sewell at josh@EG29.org. Stay connected with the foundation on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eltongoodwinfoundation.