PAWTUCKET — As difficult it is to get the word out, glean sponsors, attract teams from – at the very least, from eastern half of the United States – and put it all together for a premier event, Edd Pedro revels in it all.
Pedro, with the help of some family members and friends, is about to host his 10th annual “Fight For A Cure Wiffle Ball Tournament and Mega-Raffle” at Slater Park beginning at 9 a.m. sharp Sunday.
“I can’t believe it’s our 10th; the time has flown by,” the Pawtucket native and event director stated recently. “It’s been tough. It’s been a grind. When you work full-time and you’re trying to get sponsors, get teams registered, publicize the tournament, etc., it can be really hard.
“The amount of work to pull it off, it’s been stressful, but so worthwhile,” he added. “You always know you’re trying to do a good thing, a really special thing.”
After the ninth-ever extravaganza raised $23,000 for the fight against Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, Pedro now hopes to gather approximately the same amount this time around.
“We’ve raised $220,000-plus over the past nine years, and we’d love to eclipse the quarter-million-dollar mark,” he noted. “If we get there, here in our 10th year, that would be truly remarkable, but we’re going to need help. If there are any corporate sponsors out there, it’s tax-deductible, so you can have them give me a call! The same goes for any teams who want to sign up.”
Pedro has always maintained a laid-back, fun-loving demeanor, despite the fact he initially created this fete – one that took place on Sept. 11, 2004 – to help his then-three-year-old daughter, Kelsey.
She had been diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis several months before, and it was his notion to assemble a fete that would aid in finding a cure.
Two years ago, Pedro said his “little girl” had been taken off all medications by her doctors. Last summer, her slide forced physicians to reinstate them.
“She’s taking what basically is a cancer medication because of the pain in her knees,” he said then. “Still, she’s doing OK. She’s a fighter, always has been.”
Before this one kicks off, Pedro is excited (and relieved) to say Kelsey is back in “cruise mode.
“She’s doing great!” he indicated. “She’s a freshman-to-be at Tolman (at age 13), and she made the football cheerleading squad. She was dancing at Dance Workshops in North Providence, but she gave it up to concentrate on the cheerleading, and also schoolwork.
“The medications she started taking last year at this time are working well, so everything’s good. We’re so proud of Kelsey.”
He also wanted to make sure that everyone knew that sign-ups are winding down, but there’s still a short time for those interested to take part. As of Tuesday, Pedro had about 20 teams registered for the Adult Competitive Division, and another 25 slated to take the field in the “Just for Fun” category.
“We only have three teams signed up for the Youth Division, but we won’t have it if there aren’t more,” he mentioned. “Still, they’ll play in the ‘Just for Fun’ (tourney). I’ll tell you, we have a lot of surprises in store.”
He’s not kidding. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd will attend, not to mention Pawtucket Red Sox co-mascot “Paws.”
“A friend of a friend of mine helped me contact Oil Can, and when I asked, he told me, ‘Sure, I’ll come on down!’” Pedro said. “I’m thrilled about it. To have a BoSox legend to be there, I can’t believe it! It’s awesome!”
The good news: Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien has registered a pair of teams, one each in the “Just for Fun” and youth events.
“I’m so glad the mayor is coming again,” Pedro said. “If we have more youth teams, we will have that.”
Pedro is also ecstatic at the amount of prizes collected for the Mega-Raffle. Highlighting the list: Two tickets for a Red Sox-White Sox game at Fenway Park; there is no solid date yet, but the seats will be in the 11th row behind home plate.
“Every time a right-handed batter goes to the box, you’ll be on TV (NESN),” Pedro chuckled. “It’s a great prize.”
Others include two Boston Bruins ducats in a luxury box (with free food and drinks, “excluding cocktails,” Pedro laughed again); greens fees for a foursome at Quidnessett Country Club in North Kingstown; a deep-sea fishing expedition out of Block Island; and dozens of restaurant gift certificates. There’s also an opportunity to win Patriots tickets to a 2013 home game.
Most raffle items will be available at a price of $1 per ticket. There also will be eight silent auctions, with one offering the chance to throw out the first pitch at a PawSox game, another the opportunity to win (and imbibe) 12 cases of Samuel Adams beer.
Pedro pointed out that winners need not be present to claim their awards.
The event will have a plethora of amenities, among them: A rock-climbing wall, two “bouncy houses,” music, concessions, etc. Representatives of the Rhode Island Blood center will conduct a drive at Slater Park as well.
To register for Wiffle Ball, fees are $35 per player (minimum three per squad). Every participant will receive a free $10 tourney T-shirt.
To register for the tourney, visit www.wiffleman.com , or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information, call Pedro directly at (401) 447-4486.