The mission of the Jason Taylor Foundation has been made abundantly clear over the years. Since the day it was founded, all the way back when the now Hall of Fame pass rusher was still making a name for himself in the NFL, the foundation has been focused on helping children in all walks of life.
In fact, they do so much already, that the Whiffle Ball tournament that was held on Saturday morning and afternoon for the third year in a row, almost never came into being.
"Dr. Todd Rodman, with sports chiropractic and natural health solutions, came to us." said Jason Taylor Foundation executive director Seth Levit. "He was a friend of the organization, we knew him through his family and some work with his nephew that we did. He has had a dream of putting on this whiffle ball tournament. Quite honestly, I was like, 'I don't need another event.' But Sean Todd, our vice president of operations, bought in, and he and Todd Rodman got together and this is their vision."
Their vision consisted of Pine Trails Park in Parkland, Florida, food trucks, live performances by various dance teams from schools in the area, and enough whiffle balls to supply an army, which is exactly what they had out there as over 34 teams, with over 200 players in total, came out to compete in support of the cause.
"We're about helping kids build a better future," said Levit. "Dr. Rodman very specifically wanted to raise money for children battling pediatric cancer, and then other pediatric emergencies as well. We do a lot of work with the Holtz Children's Hospital, and now this event helps support the work we do with Holtz, particularly those young people that are unfortunately suffering through cancer."
On top of the 200 players, 70 volunteers were on hand to offer their services for the event, with 150-200 spectators rounding things out. The amount of money raised from all of this effort? Nearly $30,000 dollars.
And there was nary a celebrity (with the exception of Levit's Fish Tank podcast partner O.J. McDuffie) to be found.
"What's really magical about it, it's not a celebrity event." said Levit. "Normally when you're here, you can't turn your head without bumping into a Dolphin. O.J. McDuffie, my partner on the podcast does have a team here, but this isn't about someone coming out just to see Jason (Taylor). This is about the community enjoying whiffle ball, coming out for a beautiful day, and knowing that they're gonna help young people."
It speaks to the level of dedication that the South Florida community has to making a difference that so much money could be raised with the only incentive being a day at the park and a cause to support. No celebrities, no promises of autographs, just a desire to make a difference.
The winners for the tournament was a team known as Wizard Creations, and that marks the second year in a row their team has come out on top. No doubt they will return to try and three-peat next year, where hopefully the event will reach even greater milestones.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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