Summer baseball programs in Perham and New York Mills will co-host the 'Highway 10 Save A Life Initiative Baseball Tournament' July 6-8. Teams will be made up of 16- or 17-year-olds from across the state.
Following Chris Benz's death by suicide on Jan. 11, 2007, at the age of 17, his family created the Chris Benz Memorial Baseball Tournament in Minneapolis to connect with kids and teach them that help is available; the tournament also raises money to provide local high schools with grants to conduct their own suicide awareness and prevention activities.
Four years ago, the Minnesota Twins partnered with the Chris Benz Memorial Foundation to create the Save a Life Initiative. SALI provides resources to foster healthy communities by increasing suicide awareness and prevention for youth and young adults. This year the Twins challenged the foundation to expand the tournament statewide and the Highway 10 SALI tournament is one result.
Leveraging the successful blueprint of the Chris Benz Memorial Baseball Tournament, SALI is dedicated to helping communities use baseball and softball tournaments as their own platforms to educate young people and their families about the difficult subject of teen suicide, including overt "programming" through the tournament's key messages of support, encouragement and the importance of young people making healthy choices.
The profits from the tournament go to the Chris Benz Memorial Fund, with grants given to area high schools for the purpose of "promoting healthy choices for youth." One $2,000 grant for suicide prevention and the promotion of healthy choices will be awarded at the tournament.
The tournament will start July 6 with games at noon and 3 p.m. Those games will be followed with a banquet for all teams, families and guests at 6 p.m. at Kreuger Field in Perham. Following the banquet, a guest speaker will be discussing key ways to prevent teen suicide and to raise teen awareness that help is available.
The Twins are also sending a "Twins legend" to speak at the event.
Games will follow all day July 7 and 8, with divisional championship games to be played at both Kreuger Field (Perham) and Jacobson Fields (NY Mills). Along with Perham and NY Mills, a few of the teams already committed for the tournament include Fergus Falls, New Ulm, Moorhead and Park Center.
Those interested in helping with the event or donating funds, or anyone who would like to enter a team, may contact James Mulcahy at firstname.lastname@example.org; Dan Peterson at 218-849-1368; SALIPerham@gmail.com; Joe Doll at 701-238-6666 or SALIHwy10TeamRegistration@gmail. com.