July 19, 2014

Adoption gets team support at kickball tournament

“Kick for a Home” on the south lawn of the Liberty Memorial raised money and increased awareness of the need for permanent homes for thousands of children in foster care. Saturday’s event was the first in Kansas City. More than 125 players on eight teams took part.

The cause of foster children in need of adoption is serious, and the need is great.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while lending a helping foot.

Like the “Kick for a Home” kickball tournament Saturday on the south lawn of the Liberty Memorial. The event raised money and awareness of the need for permanent homes.

“It’s something that not everybody is aware of,” said Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which holds kickball fundraisers in other cities.

Saturday’s event was the first in Kansas City, and more than 125 players on eight teams took part.

The host was VML, a digital advertising agency, which fielded a team dubbed the Kickball Heroes.

“We’re very supportive of anything we can do to help the community,” said Ali Ellis of VML. “Our senior leadership from the CEO on down was very supportive of helping the Dave Thomas Foundation.”

Three teams came from NPC, a Wendy’s franchise operator in the Kansas City area.

“It was a great cause that we wanted to help,” said Vonnie Walbert of NPC.

Why kickball?

Soronen said it was a way to connect the “joy and fun of childhood” with the mission of the foundation. Its goal is to find adoptive families for children in foster care across the country. More than 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted, according to the foundation.

The tournament was co-sponsored by Go Kickball, an Atlanta-based organization in its ninth year of promoting kickball. It has teamed with the Dave Thomas Foundation for three years.

“It’s a great way to meet people and network,” said Go Kickball’s founder and president, Jeff Kassen. “It’s a game everybody can play.”

The inclusiveness of the game certainly was evident Saturday, with players of all ages, genders and skill levels.

One team was being eyed warily by the other players. The Waldo Thunder is a baseball team of 11-year-olds who had the look of competence and kickball experience that other teams seemed to lack.

The boys certainly seemed to know their way around a diamond, sliding into second base to break up double plays, hitting cutoff men, taking an extra base on the throw and laying down a bunt from time to time.

Team manager Sean Wilson said he saw it as a good opportunity to let the boys have some fun and participate in a community event.

“They’ve been talking about it all week,” he said.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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