The Live Like Casey Foundation will host its second annual kickball tournament fundraiser Sunday, at a new township location necessary given a large turnout last year.
The foundation was started by Beth Lohne shortly after the death of her son Casey in a 2019 car accident. He had recently graduated from Shawnee High School. Her son, Lohne said, loved sports and activity, whether for an organized team or a pickup game among friends at a local park. Casey was involved in various associations and clubs in the township while growing up, so Lohne decided to start her nonprofit in his memory and support sports and teams year round.
The kickball fundraiser was selected because of its relative familiarity.
“Casey always liked to play and wanted everyone to be able to play, whether you were a toddler or a senior citizen,” his mother said. “He wanted everyone to be involved if they wanted to be. When we were looking at a fundraiser to do with some sort of activity involved, we wanted something that was open to varying age groups as well as skill levels, so kickball in general really stuck with us from the start.”
According to Lohne, the foundation’s goal since inception has been to ensure that all children – regardless of ability, income or special needs – never stop playing and “Live Like Casey” by always enjoying life, supporting others and promoting positive attitudes. Foundation fundraising supports various youth mentorship programs and sports teams through the purchase of athletic equipment. Live Like Casey also hosts food collections and other events during the year.
Through the foundation’s work, Lohne believes she and others are helping to keep alive the way Casey lived his life. He touched lives while he played Marlton street hockey and through the Medford Youth Athletic Association, before becoming an umpire and referee for various sports.
“He was always the ringleader, it felt like,” Lohne recalled. “He had kids playing regardless of age. He was a mentor … He was going to go to Salisbury University to study physical education to become a teacher, so he was very passionate about working with kids, whether they were his age or not.
“He had this mentality of everyone belonging and having an opportunity … It’s not something he always got in his own life, so he wanted to make sure others did,” she added.
This year’s tournament has been moved to the Medford Youth Athletic Association Softball Complex on Hartford Road in the township to enable more space for both kickball and other activities.
“We were overwhelmed with the support last year,” Rohne noted. “We had no idea what it would look like that first year, but having over 150 people there the first time we’re doing it was great, both emotionally and physically.”
This year’s event allows for teams of seven players each, but interested contestants can sign up individually or with friends without a complete team to be paired with other players and form their own team. A $20 donation per player is requested, and will include face painting, games and a DJ.
Tournament hours are noon to 5 p.m. More information can be found at https://livelikecasey.com/.