Stoneham/Wakefield, Ma.-- Taking place the last weekend of April, the inaugural Dodging for Dollars of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield set a goal of reaching $5,000, but this simple game of dodgeball caught the eye of everyone in the community wanting to relive their childhood.
Matt Reopell, captain of his family’s team, the Reopell Avengers’ agreed "I have participated in many charity events and Dodging for Dollars was easily the most fun I've ever had at a charity event. I felt like the event brought out the inner child in all the adults that participated and brought us back to our glory days. Even if we are more slow these days."
As word spread of the event, it received a lot more attention than originally expected. Initially planned for just Friday, extra game slots had to be added Thursday and Saturday.
As more teams began to sign up for the event, the $5,000 bar originally set in place was quickly shattered bringing in almost $10,000 in the first week of fundraising.
Saturday morning, after the final game ended, Dodging for Dollars brought in a final total of $35,803.
Along with fundraising, the event itself brought great dodgeball action including intense games between the Stoneham Police and Wakefield Police, Stoneham Football and Wakefield Football, Stoneham Officials and Wakefield Officials, and arguably the most intense match was Stoneham Fire v. Wakefield Fire that went to Game 7 and used the old fashioned jelly balls.
"I really had a lot of fun competing against Wakefield, knowing some people from that town made it even more comical. Very thankful for the people who donated money to make that organization what it is." stated Stoneham Selectman George Seibold
Wakefield School Committee member Kate Morgan agreed, commenting "As a member of the Wakefield School Committee, I often participate in fundraisers for local causes, but this was by far the most fun and for a great cause! It is important that members of our community support the efforts of the Boys & Girls Clubs as they continue to provide camps, classes, scholarships and many other services for local families. I look forward to continuing to raise money next year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wakefield and Stoneham. I do want to warn my Stoneham colleagues, I will be practicing in the coming months and Wakefield expects to win next year!"
The event also featured many company and family teams.
"After spending years growing up at the boys and girls club, we felt it was necessary to give something back." Said Stoneham Police Officer Joe Ponzo, who played on the Ponzo Brothers family team.
"Over the years, the club has been a valuable gathering spot for the communities' youth. Providing a safe location, guidance and support, the club aides in creating responsible young citizens. We had a great time battling it out with Salem Five. After the initial game, we realized these bankers had arms and were chucking fastballs. I was so proud of our extended Anderson-Silvestro-Smallcomb family to come back and take the win! We wouldn't hesitate to do this again; a great time for a great cause. " said Jack Anderson of Anderson-Bryant Funeral Home
As the 1-hour games concluded each team that participated walked away with sweat on their backs and smiles on their faces as this childhood game turned into a truly special moment in helping our communities’ youth. Some were already talking about next year.
“It takes a lot of different parts to make sure our kids are safe. It’s our schools, our public safety officials, and also our non-profits. Wakefield, and Stoneham, are lucky to have the Clubs dedicated to making sure our kids have great futures. We played dodgeball to have fun and of course beat the Stoneham Police, and we will next year, but more importantly we did it to make sure our kids continue to have a safe place to go during those critical after school hours when their parents may not be home," said Wakefield Police Officer Meaghan Leary.
Business owner and team captain Chris Ponzo stated it best “the Club was a big part of our lives and helped us to get where we are today. I'm glad we could be a part of this great fundraiser."