GARDEN PLAIN, Kan. (KSNW) – What started as a beer-drinking softball league more than a decade ago has turned into a fundraising machine.
“They go hand in hand. There is nothing wrong with drinking beer and raising money at the same time,” said Michael Scheer.
“We decided, hey, why don’t we hang out more, and since we are hanging out, having fun, why not raise money?” said Brent Randolph.
That ‘why not’ attitude turned into an annual softball tournament known as the One Pitch Classic. Since 2009, the group behind the tourney, now called the Pearlsnaps, has raised thousands of dollars and put on numerous other events for people and places in their hometown.
“The mission now really is to hang out and have fun, but at the same time, promote the town of Garden Plain, and you know if somebody in the community needs something, we can raise money for it, why not do it while we are having fun,” explained Randolph.
Latest fundraiser helps girl battling cancer
All of the proceeds from the most recent One Pitch Classic, held in October, benefited Madison Francis. Madison, 5, was diagnosed with a form of spindle cell sarcoma in August.
“On August 1, my husband and I were getting ready for bed, and we noticed a really large lump in her stomach. It was not there the night before, so we were a bit concerned, so we took her to a local hospital. They did some scans. They told us it was a mass. They didn’t really know what it was, so they sent us to the oncologist in Kansas City, and on August 2, she got a biopsy, and a week later, we were told it is stage four,” said Jerika Francis, Madison’s mother.
Jerika is a Garden Plain native. She went to school with several of the guys on the Pearlsnaps.
“We have that tournament every year anyways. We obviously have fees to play in it. Why not give those fees to her. We don’t need the money, and it’s just great to be able to help people,” said Randolph.
Randolph said the tournament raised nearly $8,000 for the Francis family. It is a big relief for Jerika as she recently had to quit her job to care for Madison as they travel back and forth from Kansas City and their home in Norwich.
“I can’t even express how grateful my family is. Just from the bottom of our hearts, like, it’s amazing, and I’m very proud to call Garden Plain my hometown,” Jerika sobbed as she explained her deep appreciation for the Pearlsnaps to KSN.
Other Pearlsnaps’ ‘fun’draisers
From softball tournaments to Christmas caroling, the Pearlsnaps are not short on creative ways to raise money.
“Most of us have kids that have to do some type of fundraising. No one likes going door to door and selling a candy bar or popcorn,” Randolph said. “His town likes to socialize, so we do social events that people like to attend.
The group has even tried its hand at the annual Wagonmasters Chili Cookoff in Wichita. While they have not secured a win yet, they intend on continuing to try.
They also create t-shirts for many of their events with the sales going back to the community or a community cause. In the last decade, the Pearlsnaps estimates the team has raised about $20,000.
“It’s community-wide. It’s not just us. When we started, when we promoted this most recent softball tournament, we had people as soon as we put a banner up, we had people blowing up our inboxes saying how can we contribute? What can we do and that’s just how this community operates. Everyone wants to give time, talent, or treasure in some sort of fashion to help someone in need. It just kind of snowballs from us,” explained Scheer.
How did they get their name?
The name Pearlsnaps comes from the men’s authentic Western-wear attire.
“My dad, he used to always wear these around the house when he was working on Saturdays. He had this old pearl snap with the sleeves cut off, and then, I inherited some over the years, so I started wearing them,” explained Scheer.
Scheer’s style then took off. He gifted some of his teammates some pearl snaps.
“We said, ‘you know we should wear these on game days. This should be our formal jersey,’ and that’s how we became the Pearlsnaps,” he said.