When students Delaney Gibbons and Taylor Morrissey learned one of their favorite teachers was trying to raise money to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) the girls knew they had to do something to help.
The girls, who are in junior high school, once had physical education teacher Chris Benyo while students at . Benyo’s wife Denise DiMarzo was diagnosed with ALS and he started his own fundraising effort to raise money for research and patient care.
To help raise money the girls thought they would hold a dodgeball tournament and donate funds raised to the effort, said Delaney’s mother Lisa Gibbons.
Sign up for the tournament, called "Dodgin’ 4 Lou Gehrig’s Disease", has been brisk and closes on Dec. 19. The girls are hoping to have more people sign up to participate. The event will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 13 in the field house at . The girls hope to raise $5,000.
“We were talking and thinking kids that age love to do that [play dodgeball],” Lisa Gibbons said. “It is so hard to find something for the kids to do where it isn’t just the parents signing a check. The kids can use their money to pay for it. … The kids are actually doing all of the work.”
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, causes motor neurons to gradually stop working and die. The result is loss of nearly all voluntary movement, and other muscle functions such as speaking, swallowing, and—eventually—breathing, according to the Les Turner ALS Foundation.
“We were very sad to hear about what Mr. Benyo and his wife are going through and wanted to do something that would educate people about ALS and also raise money for the local organization that helps people like Mr. Benyo and his family,” Delaney Gibbons said in a news release from the Foundation. “We figured a dodgeball tournament would be fun, it’d be easy to involve a lot of people and there would be several ways we could raise money, including the registration fee, spectator fees, sponsorships and wristband sales.”
The dodge ball tournament will have 16 teams if not more participating, Lisa Gibbons said. Both of the girls are very athletic and participate in a variety of sports. Through all of the their connections they have been rallying their friends to participate in the event, which will be held at Naperville Central in the field house.
Along with Delaney and Taylor’s friends participating in the event, there will also be teams of teachers and students from other schools playing, Lisa Gibbons said.
“The outpouring of support has been wonderful,” she said. “It is really touching to see how everybody wants to help out.”
Entry is $25 per person and registration is due no later than December 19. Spectators are encouraged to attend the tournament; the entrance fee is $2. The organizers are still requesting sponsorship support. For more information call 630-527-9506 or 630-664-7179 or visit the Facebook page, Dodgin-For Lou-Gehrigs Dodgeball-Tournament.