Volley for Mitchell Charity event – lucky number 7!

AT&T once again gifts $5,000 to Volley for Mitchell

Mitchell Peterson with 2012 bracket winners
Mitchell Peterson with 2012 bracket winners

If the mercury in the thermometer is rising above 80, the sun is shining brightly overhead and the dense humid air of August is filled with the sound of palms slapping leather balls, and screams of “I got it!” then it must mean the Volley for Mitchell 4 on 4 coed sand volleyball tournament is underway.

Seven years ago this summer, three friends, Jeff Hartnagel, Peter MacGregor and Bill Jackson sat around a backyard campfire after a grueling afternoon of backyard volleyball and hatched the idea for what has quickly become an August Rockford tradition: The Volley for Mitchell, 4 on 4 charity, sand volleyball tournament.

In conjunction with Mitchell’s Run, Volley for Mitchell was established in 2007 as a way to give those members of the community, who may not be runners, the opportunity to show their support and have a good time doing it, all while raising money for Parent Project MD – for Mitchell Peterson.

Mitchell Peterson is a 16 year old boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and is a member of the Rockford Community. Mitchell is an inspiration to everyone who knows him, and he loves to share his passions and smile. Those whose lives he’s touched are eager to help in any way they can and support research for a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

All proceeds from the run and the volleyball tournament go to benefit a 501c3 “Parent Project MD” in its ongoing battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a deadly genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood. To date there is no cure! For those interested in participating in the August 17 run, information can be found at www.mitchellsrun.org.

“Looking back, that first year was pretty crazy. We came up with the idea on a Saturday and one week later we found a place to hold the event, designed a logo, printed up flyers and posters and began spreading the word”, Jeff Hartnagel said. “I still remember knocking on doors of local business owners asking to hang a poster in the window. The community has been awesome in its support of this event right from the very beginning”, added Hartnagel.

Six short weeks after the idea for the charity event to benefit Duschenne MD, rose out of the smoldering embers of a backyard bonfire, the first Volley for Mitchell four-on-four volleyball tournament took place. Just 29 teams competed in that inaugural contest which raised $ 3,000 for DMD research – 2012 saw over 50-four person teams, in 5 divisions, competing for the coveted title of “Spiker Champ”.

In 2009, seeking a venue closer to the city of Rockford, Volley for Mitchell found a partner in the The Score Restaurant and Sports Bar, who that spring had renovated their location on Northland Drive, installing 3-outdoor sand volleyball courts. “Moving to the Score was huge for VFM”, commented Bill Jackson, VFM co-director. “We could play into the night with their lighted courts and food service for players and spectators alike turned out to be great selling point participants”, added Jackson.

What the organizers of Volley for Mitchell didn’t foresee, however, was how big a draw the combination of a great cause, the excitement of 4 on 4 sand volleyball, and The Score would become. In just 3-years after that night around the campfire in Hartnagel’s backyard the Volley for Mitchell would need to grow again.

The popularity of Volley for Mitchell found the three friends working with Rockford Public Schools to add a second venue to their August event. RPS graciously granted the request for use of the community sand volleyball courts constructed at North Rockford Middle School. “It was great bringing play to the heart of the City of Rockford with the addition of the courts at North Rockford Middle School”, Peter MacGregor said.

The 2013, seventh annual, 4 on 4 Volley for Mitchell sand volleyball tournament is expected to attract a record number of teams that will play once again – headquartered at The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar (5301 Northland Dr, NE), who has donated the use of their courts since 2009. Saturday, August 3 is the date of the 2013 Volley for Mitchell tournament. Teams participating, ages 17 to 60 +, will be playing on the courts at the The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar, and ages 10 to 16 at the sand volleyball field located at North Rockford Middle School courtesy of Rockford Public Schools and the entire Rockford community.

“When we packed up the nets after last year’s tournament, Volley for Mitchell had brought in a little over $18,000 for year six”, commented Pete MacGregor, tournament co-director. “AT&T’s continued commitment this year, with another generous gift, has put our seven year total projected to be over $ 70,000”, added MacGregor.

Tournament organizers were presented with a $5,000 check from AT&T for this year’s 4 on 4 charity volleyball tournament. “The Volley for Mitchell tournament is a great event in support of a very important cause, battling Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” said Jim Murray, president of AT&T Michigan.  “It is a wonderful example of the kind of community involvement that really works to make a difference in Michigan and for kids in our state, and we at AT&T are proud to be able to be a part of it”.

Mark your calendars, Saturday, August 3, will be the seventh charity tournament. “It is so awesome to be part of a community like Rockford that shows up in a big way to support causes like Parent Project MD, researching for a cure for DMD”, Jeff Hartnagel commented. “Pete, Bill and I are so proud of all our volunteers and the players that come out every year, knowing that our idea sparked by a backyard bonfire continues to make a real difference in the battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ”, Hartnagel concluded.

Details and an entry form can be obtained by contacting Peter MacGregor (co-director of Volley for Mitchell) at 616.581.2025 or email clmacgregor@aol.com or by going to www.volleyformitchell.org.


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