Wiffle ball tournament a home run for area charities

Jul 9, 2022

The Stackhouse Fairgrounds became a home run derby on Saturday as teams competed for the wiffle ball crown and raised funds for mental health awareness at the 14th annual Theresa Street Summer Classic.

The tournament was set up by Theresa Street, a Dartmouth-based nonprofit which aims to assist and raise awareness for charitable causes on the South Coast.

Contests began in 2008 in the backyard of organization co-founder Ray Paul Biron on Theresa Street — the nonprofit’s namesake. At first, he said, it was a way to find ways to entertain themselves during those “hot and languorous Dartmouth summer days.”

“It was just a few friends playing wiffle ball,” Biron said. “From there, more people kept joining. Each year it just gets larger.”

After 13 years of backyard ball, the Theresa Street members decided it was time to change to a larger and more public location to accommodate the 12 teams that signed up to play over the weekend.

With that extra space, Biron noted that it has allowed him to make some quality improvements to the games, namely adjusting the pitcher’s mounds to “create the ultimate fan experience” with more home runs.

“We had some top physicists in the country working on this,” he said with a laugh.

Matt Soares, who played on the team “Whiffed and Spliffed,” attributed those improvements to the home run he hit to get his squad on the board during the opening round of play.

“That and some espresso,” he said.

Along with the ability to compete for bragging rights, teams were also required to raise funds for organizations such as the Young Adult Access Center, the Caring Network, #BishStrong and the Tyler Joseph Leonard Memorial Foundation.

The Tyler Joseph Leonard Memorial Foundation, based in Dartmouth, works to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, along with awarding scholarships to seniors at local high schools. 

#BishStrong helps to support Dartmouth resident DJ Bishop, who suffered a fractured neck and a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis after he dove into a shallow lake in 2016. Bishop is currently planning to construct a gym for others who have been paralyzed from spinal cord injuries.

The Young Adult Access Center serves individuals ages 16 to 22 through peer support and mentoring. The organization is expanding to the South Coast with a pop-up location just over the line in New Bedford. 

A more permanent location is expected to open either later this year or early 2023.

The Caring Network, which has locations in New Bedford and Fall River, offers counseling to kids ages 4 and 14 who have experienced or witnessed violence at home or at school.

Larissa Correia, the network’s program director, said she was especially thankful for the generosity of Theresa Street.

“It’s such a huge help,” she said.

So far, the Dartmouth nonprofit has raised $27,000 to help these causes — a $10,000 increase from the 2021 summer classic.

“And that was before the first pitch was thrown,” Theresa Street board member Andrew Burdick noted.

The summer classic won’t be the end of its efforts to assist others, as the Dartmouth nonprofit plans other fundraisers in the future.

“We don’t really know where this will take us, but we’ll go along for the ride,” Biron said with a smile.

Games continue Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Stackhouse Club located on 16 Faith Street.