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Bishop’s Falls softball tournament highlights community giving

Lynette Hillier, left, Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation executive director, accepts a cheque from Rob Canning, one of the organizers of the annual Leo Brothers Memorial Softball Tournament.
Lynette Hillier, left, Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation executive director, accepts a cheque from Rob Canning, one of the organizers of the annual Leo Brothers Memorial Softball Tournament.

BISHOP’S FALLS, NL – The crowds will gather in Bishop’s Falls next weekend for what has become a highlight of the town’s sports, social and fundraising calendar.

The 13th annual Leo Brothers Memorial Softball Tournament will offer old friends and teammates as well as the general public the chance to gather for food, fellowship and sharing memories of the tournament’s namesake.

The eight-team tournament will be as much about “honouring a great family” as it will about fundraising, according to one of the organizers, Rob Canning.

“The tournament was started by Leo’s brother, Tony, his wife, Susan, (and family members), and a few years in Tony also passed away from cancer,” he explained.

Canning said the family kept the annual tournament going until the 10th year, when the groundwork was becoming overwhelming, largely due to the fact that many of those involved lived away.

Some friends then decided to step in to keep the event going.

“It is a really strong community event,” said Canning. “Outside of the fact that it’s a great cause and the money is not going to a centre in St. John’s where we don’t see it is helpful.”

The Leo Brothers Memorial Softball Tournament in support of the Dr H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation has raised over $61,000 or cancer care in central Newfoundland since it began.

Canning noted that an additional $5,000 in tournament proceeds have been disbursed to those in need as well.

“We do stress the fundraising but Susan told us to enjoy the softball and the money will come,” Canning said. “Leo loved a game of ball, and he loved the social part as well.”

Canning said this is a much-anticipated weekend in the town.

“We have people who book their holidays around this,” he told the Advertiser. “It’s by far my favourite weekend of the year.”

He noted that there will be food available for the general public as well as live entertainment.

The Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation raises funds for cancer centres in St John’s, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Corner Brook.

Canning was at the Grand Falls-Windsor facility Wednesday to present the proceeds from last year’s event.

The donation will be used for the foundation's patient and family support fund that assisted 500 cancer patients in the last 12 months who were facing financial difficulty as a result of their cancer diagnosis.

In the last year alone, the foundation has dispersed over $31,000 to cancer patients living in central Newfoundland, according to Lynette Hillier, the organization’s executive director.

“Our sincere thanks to the organizers, sponsors and players of this tournament for their continued dedication to cancer care,” she said.

She noted that any cancer patient needing assistance) for cancer care can contact the Nurse Navigators (1-855-848-3888) who will help connect them to resources, including the patient and family support fund.

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