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June 07, 2009

The David Manlove Memorial Tournament at OYO

When our son died of addiction at the age of 16 the little league program where he had played asked us if they could sponsor a special tournament in his memory.  We had spent seven wonderful years at the Oaklandon Youth Organization (OYO) ball park where David learned the value of fair play and good sportsmanship while honing his considerable skills as a short stop and catcher.  Dave was a natural athlete and excelled particularly in baseball competing on championship, travel and all-star teams at OYO and going on to play on his middle and high school teams as well.  We were extremely grateful to OYO for their strong emphasis on fundamentals and team play knowing that these were important life lessons for our son.  So when they asked if they could hold an invitational memorial tournament in his name we were honored and touched by the gesture.

In the ensuing years the tournament has grown in size and scope and this past Sunday OYO held the 8th David Manlove Memorial for little league teams from central Indiana.  Over the years, as we have become more involved in the prevention, treatment and recovery of adolescents who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction OYO has joined with us with increasing enthusiasm in carrying the message to participants and spectators alike that addiction is a powerful disease and no respecter of age race or social standing.  The folks at OYO made this year’s 8th DJM Tournament particularly memorable for us by making the day one of voluntary service for all from the parent volunteers who prepped the fields in the early hours of the day… to those who staffed the concession stands and to the umpires who called the balls, strikes and endured the slings and arrows of outrageous parents.  

It is always been an emotional day for us filled with wonderful memories tinged with tears, but over time those tears that had once come from sadness  have been replaced by joy over how special this tournament has become.  Yes the proceeds from concessions, raffle and t-shirt sales go to support The 24 Group, a foundation that supports families whose young people struggle with addiction… but this day has never been about money.  What it is about is honoring a young man’s struggle against a dangerous and powerful disease that took him from his parents in a sudden and tragic manner.  It’s also about making parents and young people aware that early alcohol and drug use may seems like innocent experimental but can lead to addiction faster at a younger age.  And finally it is about the fact that no family is immune from the devastating effects of addiction.

There were many extraordinary moments this year but the one that will stay with us forever came at the end of the long but joy filled day.  It was the consolation game to decide third place for the 10 year olds and when it was over the coach sought us out to tell us his boys had something to say to us.  They had selected the tallest young man on the team to be their spokesperson and in a quietly eloquent manner he expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to participate and their condolences for our loss.  He then presented us with a check for $100 on behalf of the team and the coach said each boy wanted say thank you and shake our hands personally.  

And as I looked into each young man’s face I saw David smiling back.  The tears of joy return once more and flowed like a river of hope deep in my heart. 

Thank you OYO for helping Dave continue to make a difference.

June 7, 2009 at 09:11 PM in The Odyssey | Permalink

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