After a few years off, the Cody Classic baseball tournament is back underway this weekend.
The tournament raises funds for children dealing with cancer across the Cowichan Valley. It first ran in 1999 with less than 5 teams and has expanded to 18 this year, with several teams on the waiting list.
One of the tournament organizers, Dustin Mayo says the tournament is a family reunion of sorts.
“It’s like a reunion. [For example,] I see this person here once a year, and she still comes up and hugs me,” says Mayo. “I won’t see her again until next year, unless I bump into her at the grocery store or something. We’re not friends. I don’t know her any other way than the Cody, but you’re still like family when you come here.”
The tournament is named Cody because of the child that it was created to help. The first iteration was to raise money for Cody’s family, who were dealing with extensive costs of travelling weekly to the children’s hospital in Vancouver, along with costs of prescriptions and accommodations.
After the success of the first tournament, they decided to keep running the tournament to help others in the same position as Cody’s family.
“The good news is Cody has been in remission for many years now, the bad news is Cody isn’t the last child in the Cowichan Valley to be stricken with this devastating disease,” the Cody Classic organizing committee said in a 2020 release. “Each year we learn of more children within our community who have had their young lives disrupted by this illness.”
The money that is raised is put into an account and dished out by word of mouth to a family that is known to be with a child dealing with cancer.
The tournament is designed to raise as much money as possible. They have a beer garden at the event, food for sale, and an auction is held on the Sunday. Even the game itself is filled with bribery to raise more money. Each pitch ($5), out ($100), and even game ($1,000) is able to be bought. They’ve been blessed with no overhead costs meaning, every dollar raised is able to be set aside for a family dealing with child cancer.
Cahoona Matatas team member Stacey Murray says sometimes feathers get ruffled when players have an out bought against them, but it is all about raising money for kids.
“There have been some very angry exchanges. The one game we kept buying the out at home plate,” says Murray. “The teams that are playing have to agree to the buy-outs before the game so no one gets hurt about it because tensions can get going […] There’s a reminder that gets put out every year, ‘Don’t forget, this is about raising money.'”
The tournament is a family affair for Murray, with each member of her team weaved into her family tree somehow. They have entered for the last several years to honour a few different family members, including her brother who has survived cancer on four separate occasions.
Her personal goal was to raise $10,000 dollars for the cause, separate from what her team has raised, with the promise that she’ll be shaving her head on Sunday. Six years ago, she shaved her head for $5,000 and was determined to double it. With two days left to fundraise, she has individually raised $8,775 dollars.
“I am so close to my $10,000 goal. I am blown away,” says Murray. “I have two days still, so my goal is to raise another $1,200 and sign a $10,000 cheque to Cody Classic.”
To raise money, she ran a couple of bottle drives, raising money through etransfers from social media posts, a couple of piggy banks around Crofton, and donations from friends.
“The kids that go to the school that I work at, they come in and drop in their change because they want to see Ms. Stacey’s head shaved,” Murray says. “So they all wished me luck this weekend and they’re all excited to see me bald on Tuesday.”
The tournament is running Friday through Sunday at Waldon Park in Glenora. If you’d like to support it you can swing by the park with your donations, and if you’d like to help Murray reach her personal goal you can do so by etransferring funds to: [email protected]