Dodgeball for a worthy cause
Get ready to show off your dodgeball skills.
The sixth annual Jack's Dodgeball Olympics is scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Ashland High School gym. Team registration is due by Wednesday, Feb. 20.
Also known as the Jack Frost Festival, the event was started in 2014 for Jack Dorr, a Helman Elementary student who passed away that year from a brain tumor.
Jack's mother, Trish Dorr, a fifth-grade teacher at Helman Elementary, organizes the festival and donates a portion of the proceeds to OHSU's Pediatric Brain Tumor Board in Portland, where Jack's team of doctors work.
A portion of the proceeds also go toward the Dorr Family Library at Helman.
Last year the event received a makeover and transitioned from silly carnival games to a much larger event managed by the high school leadership class. Organizers added the dodgeball tournament, a silent auction, concessions, a costume contest and "other Olympic games."
Dorr said last year’s successful remake exceeded her expectations.
Flora Snowden, an 11th-grade organizer, said activities include games such as cornhole and human bowling, which uses a person on a gym scooter as the bowling ball.
“Every adult wants to get back on one of those scooters,” Dorr said. “They were the best part of P.E., in my opinion.”
Snowden said there are plans to hold games of sprout ball in between the dodgeball rounds. Sprout ball is an all-ages friendly version of dodgeball, and a game Jack used to love, Dorr said.
The cost to register for the dodgeball tournament is $5 for students and $8 for adults. Teams consist of six people of mixed genders and ages, but individuals are welcome to register, as well. For teams lacking members, Dorr will help find the needed players. Email Dorr at firstname.lastname@example.org to register, or call her at 541-778-4960.
Admission is free for those not wishing to participate.
Kindergarten through eighth grade will play from 1 to 3 p.m. From 2 to 4 p.m., all ages are welcome to play, then adults including high-school age students will play from 3 to 6 p.m. Soft, foam balls are used.
Players may participate in more than one bracket, but they must pay the registration fee for each team they play on.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to dodgeball winners, and prizes are awarded for games and the costume contest.
About 400 people showed up last year, Snowden said, and this year will be more organized.
“There’s more of the fun aspect and less of the chaotic aspects,” Snowden said.
She said it’s imperative to raise awareness of pediatric cancer, because it directly affected a portion of the local community.
“It’s important because it goes to such an incredible cause,” Snowden said. “It helped so many different people, including Trish and Jack, through everything they went through. It’s our way of giving back and saying thank you.”
Dorr said pediatric cancer receives roughly four percent of the funding from the American Cancer Society research budget, which isn’t enough considering that children’s bodies react very differently to cancer treatment and chemotherapy.
“It’s important for the research institutions that are focusing on the pediatric research to have other funding,” Dorr said.
She said a team from the hospital came down to participate last year and plans to come this year, as well.
“They’ve done a really nice job of staying in touch,” Dorr said.
She said last year’s event brought in families from all over the Rogue Valley.
“There were tons of people I didn’t know, strangers playing strangers,” Dorr said. “I think part of the fun last year was that everyone brought a playful spirit. The adults would get so invested in some random kids’ team while they were waiting their turn.”
AHS senior organizer Eliza Strong said she volunteered because it is one of the most rewarding projects for the leadership class of the year.
“It directly affected somebody in our community, and it happens more often than people might think it does,” she said.
Strong is an editor for the AHS newspaper and said the editors have formed a dodgeball team.
All the students in the leadership class will help work the event.
The event is held every February to celebrate Jack’s birthday Feb. 14. He would have been 15 this year.
“It’s really important for me to acknowledge that he’s my son,” Dorr said. “I think as more and more time passes people begin to forget, and that’s normal, but it feels good for one day a year to bring his memory back and share that with people.
“I don’t know what to do for a 15-year-old boy, but I know at 10 he loved silly things like dodgeball,” Dorr said.
For more information, see the Friends of Jack Facebook page.
Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at email@example.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.