Marie Birkbeck
 It takes teamwork to make it through this challenging relay race, but Erica Dewey (left) and Tanya Worth (center) aced this leg of the race. The final obstacle however proved to be much more of a challenge.
It takes teamwork to make it through this challenging relay race, but Erica Dewey (left) and Tanya Worth (center) aced this leg of the race. The final obstacle however proved to be much more of a challenge.
Marie Birkbeck photo

Five teams participated in the two-day kickball tournament and relay races that were the fun part of a fundraising weekend to give back to the community.

 Cool temperatures and the intermittent rain showers could not dampen the enthusiasm of those in attendance on Sept. 8 and 9 at the 4th Annual Joey Lussier Kickball Memorial Tournament at the Valemount Sportsplex.

A full concession, a bake table, beer gardens, two raffles, a 50/50 draw and a silent auction all contributed to the excitement of the weekend. The Silent Auction tables in the beer gardens were loaded with more than sixty prizes generously donated to the cause; ironically many of the items up for grabs came from family members of those who have received funds from this event.

At the end of day though, more than $2500 was raised from the Silent Auction. A full total of the weekend income was not available at press time but founder and coordinator of the weekend event Jackilyn (Jacki) Lussier confirmed that a portion of the proceeds will be going to Montana Friesen, who will be in Vancouver hospital for several weeks with her newborn premature baby.

The balance of the proceeds will be held in trust for someone within the community who has had to basically put their life on hold for medical treatments or has experienced an unexpected tragedy.

Lussier wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to everyone - players, supporters and volunteers. She goes on to say that the event is not an easy thing to plan, it basically consumes their time for at least six to eight weeks, so any help from the outside makes it that much easier for her and co-organizer Roxanne Martens.

One of the major hurdles they are facing is garnering interest from the community and getting more teams on the roster. Lussier emphasizes that anyone can have or play on a team. This year she had members on her teams from as young as 14 years old, all the way up to 64 and 65 years of age, and, as the event gets bigger, they will be needing more volunteers to share the workload.

Co-organzier and recipient of the 2016 funds, Roxanne Martens chimed in a "Thank You” to everyone that made an effort to support the fundraiser; especially the wonderful volunteers and the out-of-towners who came from far and wide, because without them, this would not have happened. They travelled, played kickball, donated prizes to the silent auction, bid on the silent auction, and supported the concession and the beer gardens.

Martens also echoed Lussier’s concern, stating that they would really like to see more support and participation from the community, and continued by stressing that the money is going to a good cause. No one is immune to tragedy or unexpected life-altering events. One never knows when they may be the next one in need.

Lussier’s motto is, "We are never one, when one needs help." And with the help of the community this event can only continue to grow.

Paying it forward with the 4th Annual Joey Lussier Kickball Memorial Tournament
Marie Birkbeck photo

Jackilyn Lussier, founder of the Annual Joey Lussier Memorial Kickball Tournament, shares a private moment with a friend. Jackilyn has been the driving force behind this annual fundraiser to give back to the community since she herself was the recipient of community support when she lost her husband four years ago.