By Grace Bennett
1) Describe the Dusk to Dawn mission. I know you and Mike Wolfensohn work so hard on this fundraiser each year.
John: Dusk to Dawn is the primary fund raising event for Dawn’s Ray of Hope, Inc. www.DawnsRayOfHope.org Dawn’s Ray of Hope is the charitable organization created in honor of Dawn Re to carry on her efforts to raise money to aid in the fight against cancer. With significant money already going to cancer research, we wanted the money we raised to go where a smaller amount of money can make a larger impact. We donate to local charities that provide support and assistance to cancer patients, and to cancer patients themselves who need financial assistance to pay medical bills. Our donations to both Support Connection in Yorktown and Gilda’s House in White Plains have enabled them to offer much needed programs to help not just the patients, but their families who also are going through a tough time. By paying for part of some local residents’ medical bills, we have been able to make an immediate impact on those families as well as being able to alleviate some their financial burdens so they can focus on recovery and family.
The Dusk to Dawn event is an all-night co-ed softball tournament/marathon which combines Dawn’s two favorite fund raising activities–the ACS’s Relay for Life and the LLS’s Snowball Softball Tournament. Teams make a $750 donation to enter the tournament and are assigned a game slot to compete against “Dawn’s Team.” (Yes, Dawn’s Team plays each game…from dusk (about 5:30 p.m.) on Friday night, ‘til dawn (or whenever the last game ends–usually around 7or 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.) And since teams are of varying abilities (all skill levels are welcome!), we play with wood bats and a 16” Chicago style softball which helps to balance the game. We also have a barbecue going, with hamburgers and hotdogs, refreshments (non-alcoholic) and snacks available all night for just a nominal charge.
2) What are your goals each year?
John: Our primary goal is to raise as much money as possible by bringing in as many teams as we can to play. We have been lucky enough to have a full schedule with 10 teams participating in each of the last few years; but (by shifting the schedule and adjusting the game slots) we do have the ability to make room for more.
We also want to have fun. Dawn was all about fun and I can’t think of having an event in her memory and not have fun be an integral part of the formula.
Last (and certainly not least), we also hope to make this a community event, where people who are not on (or affiliated with) teams will come, watch, hang out, enjoy the barbeque, and (of course) make a donation. Quite honestly, we’re trying to figure out how to make that last part happen.
3) Any highlights from this year you want to share?
John: Truthfully, the night is full of memories and highlights. The game against the “Chappaqua Moms” is always a favorite because it is fun year-after-year, and everyone on both teams plays with the right attitude. This year’s Chappaqua Moms game was especially fun for me since Mike and I were honorary CMs and got to play on the team!
Playing alongside our kids and their/our friends never gets old, providing a lot of smiles and proud papa moments. One highlight this year was playing against a group from the HGHS Class of 2012. They played in our first tournament in September 2011 as Greeley Seniors, and returned this year as young adults to support us.
We also appreciated the HGHS Women’s Soccer Team coming to grab dinner after their game on Friday night. The young ladies on the soccer team have played in prior Dusk to Dawn tournaments, but were unable to do so this year as they had a game of their own.
But each game has great moments. Whether we’re playing against the team from CM, the Chappaqua Fire Department, Quaker Hill Tavern, the Support Connection in Yorktown, or the New Castle Adult Softball League (i.e., the Scramblers, Dirty Ol’ Dawgs, 8 Men Out, Raptors, Without a Prayer–to name a few)), there’s always something we remember and laugh about!
4) What’s your hope for the future?
John: We’d love to see Dusk to Dawn continue as a community event here in Town for many years to come, with more and more people becoming aware of us and our mission, and coming to support the players and the organization. We know that there are many worthy charities out there to which a lot of folks in our Town give a lot of their time. But by the same token, we think our event is easy to support. What better way is there to support a charity than playing softball and eating at a barbecue with your friends? And after that, who knows? Maybe our event can serve as a model that could be run simultaneously in different communities in Westchester.