EAGLE POINT — The Rogue Valley literally got a chance to step up to the plate Sunday afternoon during a fundraiser intended to raise money for the family of a beloved special education teacher who died from injuries sustained in a car crash last month.
"Dingers for Shannon: A Home Run Batting Derby," held in memory of Eagle Point High School special education teacher Shannon O'Morris, was held from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Eagle Point High School softball fields. Funds raised went to the Shannon O'Morris Memorial Fund. O'Morris died May 14, five days after she was in a head-on car crash in the 5900 block of Foothill Road. She is survived by her husband and seven children, organizers said.
"At softball games, Shannon was always on the other side of the fence," event organizer and Eagle Point High School softball senior Samantha Thompson said. "She was always there cheering us on."
Event officials said O'Morris also made an impact in the classroom.
"She had a huge heart, especially for her kids," friend and organizer Kim Andresen said, adding her son, Jackson, was one of O'Morris's students. "Anybody that was an outcast, anybody that just needed some extra caring and support, she was all about that."
The car crash happened at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 9. O'Morris had been driving south on Foothill Road near the Corey Road intersection when a 69-year-old woman driving north drifted into the oncoming lane, resulting in a head-on collision, according to Sgt. Julie Denney of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. O'Morris' newborn baby was in the car at the time of the crash, but survived.
The case has been forwarded to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office for review, Denney said, but no official charges have been filed yet.
Samantha, who is close friends with O'Morris's daughter, Tella, came up with the idea for the home run derby fundraiser and put it together with the help of teammates and team parents. Tella said the recent weeks have been difficult, but that her family has felt supported by the community because of events like the derby.
"It's awesome that they're doing this," Tella said. "It eases the pain, shockingly. You would think being reminded of it all the time is hard, but it's just nice to know that no matter what, you can fall back on these people."
Derby attendees paid $10 for 15 pitches, trying to knock the softballs into the outfield. The top hitters received prizes. Refreshments and shirts that read "Shine for Shannon" were also available for purchase.
"We're just hoping to raise as much as we can," Thompson said.
Anyone interested in donating to the fund can donate directly through any Rogue Credit Union branch.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.