Second annual Fallen Heroes Softball Tournament set for Aug. 27 at Diamonds at Arrowhead Park

Funds raised are set aside to help families of first responders in town or area seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

Players and others lined up for the start of last year’s Fallen Heroes Softball Tournament

It was nearly one year ago when eight softball teams comprised of local first responders, teachers, businesses and others joined at The Diamonds at Arrowhead Park for Evesham’s inaugural Fallen Heroes Softball Tournament.

The tournament honored the lives of Marlton residents Matthew Hempel, a lieutenant with Evesham Fire-Rescue who passed away in February 2016 at age 42, and Edward Zubrzycki, a detective sergeant with the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office who passed away in May 2015.

Now the tournament is set to return on Aug. 27 with even more teams so locals can once again honor area first responders who’ve lost their lives and support their families through fundraising.

Capt. Walt Miller is helping organize the event and said the tournament is already growing in its second year, with the number of teams participating increasing from eight to 12.

According to Miller, this year funds raised will be set aside in a general fund to help the families of any first responder in town or the area who is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

“It’s money we hope we never have to spend, but unfortunately because of the times, things happen throughout the area, and we want to be in a position to help those fallen heroes who give the ultimate sacrifice,” Miller said.

Miller said this year, teams playing in the tournament would represent Evesham Police, Evesham Fire, Evesham Township employees, Evesham school teachers, the Marlton Recreation Council, the Marlton Business Association, Mayor Randy Brown, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Oak Mortgage, Virtua Hospital, Evesham Mortgage and Burns Auto Dealership.

“One of our goals was to go out there and find all those areas and corners of the community so everybody had some sort of connection to the tournament,” Miller said.

Admission to this year’s tournament is once again free, and in addition to watching the competition between the teams, attendees and their families can enjoy music, food trucks, face painting, balloon artists and more.

In addition to money raised by the teams and business sponsors, Miller said attendees would have the chance to donate as well if they chose through basket auctions, 50/50 raffles, purchasing T-shirts and more.

“The money will go toward several worthwhile issues, and the most important thing is it brings the community together in a positive way,” Miller said.

This year’s tournament will also feature an additional game to be played between teens from the Evesham Police Department Explorer Program and the Evesham-Fire Rescue Explorer Program.

The Explorer Programs allow the departments to teach kids in high school character education lessons as they learn about police and fire work.

The game between the two Explorer Program teams will be played to honor Medford resident Max Scherzer, who served as a school resource officer through the Westampton Police Department and passed away last year.

Money raised from the game will help fund a scholarship in Scherzer’s name to be awarded to a Cherokee High School student selected by Scherzer’s family.

Those with questions about the tournament or how to donate can contact Evesham Township Director of Recreation and Senior Services Monica Vandenberg through email at vandenbergm@evesham-nj.gov.

The second annual Evesham Fallen Heroes First Responder Softball Tournament will take place on Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Diamonds at Arrowhead Park.