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Perham and New York Mills Summer Baseball Co-Hosting Tournament to Help Make a Difference

Every once in awhile we are given an opportunity to be part of something much bigger than ourselves, something that can have a significant impact in the community in which we live.  The summer baseball programs in Perham and New York Mills have once again stepped up to the plate to do just that, by co-hosting the 2nd annual Highway 10 Baseball Classic June 28, 29 and 30.  The tournament looks to make a great weekend of baseball with 16 and 17 year olds from across the state playing America’s favorite pastime.

While there will be a lot of good baseball at this tournament, the event is really about youth suicide and working to eliminate it. Some sobering facts related to youth suicide:

                     -It is the number two cause of death for our youth

-6 percent of boys and girls in grades 9 to 12 have attempted suicide per a 2010 Minnesota school survey

                     -A grade with 100 students can expect six students to attempt suicide

The tournament has its roots in tragedy. Chris Benz, a loving, young boy took his life at the age of 17 on January 11, 2007. Chris’ mom, Janet, and several of Chris’ friends created the Christopher Benz Foundation Baseball Tournament in New Hope, Minnesota, to connect with kids and teach them there is help available. The foundation has raised money to provide local high schools with grants to conduct suicide awareness and prevention activities. One year ago, the Chris Benz Foundation expanded their efforts to eliminate suicide in our youth. The Highway10 Baseball Classic was the result of that expansion.

This year, with the support of KLN, the tournament organizers will put on the 2nd annual Highway 10 Baseball Classic.

The Christopher Benz Foundation along with the Highway 10 Baseball classic is dedicated to helping communities use various activities as platforms to educate young people and their families about the difficult subject of teen suicide, including overt programming throughout the tournament’s key messages of support, encouragement and the importance of young people making healthy choices.

Last year all the teams qualified their local schools for $1,000 grants for the purpose of promoting suicide awareness, education and prevention. This same format will be followed again this year with all profits being used for grants to the schools represented by the 12 teams participating in the tournament.

The tournament will start Friday evening, 7pm, June 28 at Jacobson Field in New York Mills with New York Mills playing Grand Rapids. Saturday’s games will start at 9 in the morning, in both New York Mills and Perham. Play will continue all day with the final game Saturday being played at 8pm, under the lights, at both Perham and New York Mills.

Sunday’s games will start at 10 with the championship game played at 3 on Krueger Field in Perham.

On Saturday there will be a break in the action at 12 noon for the tournament banquet with play resuming at 3. The banquet  is an opportunity to bring all the kids and parents together to have a lunch and hear messages about suicide prevention. Speakers will include Holley Arvig from Lakeland Mental Health. Holley has had extensive experience working with youth who have been impacted by suicide. Janet Benz will speak on behalf of the Christopher Benz Foundation. Maria Willets, an area mom who lost her son, Ricky, to suicide on April 19, 2009, will tell her story about Ricky and the tough lessons she learned from her tragedy. Maria has presented to more than 3,000 students and parents over the past year. This was a direct result of last year’s Highway 10 Baseball Classic as one of the requirements to receive the grant was that Maria be brought into the school to speak to the student body.

For more information about the tournament call:

            Dan Peterson               218-849-1368

            James Mulcahy             218-298-4873

            Greg Esala                   218-639-6883

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

(218) 844-1442