By Laura Casey
Most people know me as Ms. Laura from Graver Park, where I worked for 18 of my 30 years at the Chicago Park District. My favorite days were welcoming all the moms, dads and toddlers for morning programming and organizing youth volleyball leagues.
While I have been a part of the community through my role at the Chicago Park District, for the past 15 years I have been playing in and volunteering for Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Softball Tournament. Four years ago I took on the role of Board Chair. This volunteer role has been inspiring. The mission we declared, is “Together We Can Find a Cure.”
Naturally, in the beginning I was concerned taking on this position would be too much of a commitment, but, deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do.
These days it’s hard not to find someone not touched by breast cancer. Two of my dear friends, also sisters of our Board Secretary, were diagnosed with breast cancer, and although they had been in remission, unfortunately, the cancer metastasized and they lost their battle. This experience gave me renewed drive to volunteer my time, join the committee and eventually lead the board.
Since 1994 our tournament has been growing and today we have over 60 teams with more than 1,200 women coming together in Mt. Greenwood for a day of competitive softball. But more than that, they come together to honor all those touched by breast cancer and especially the survivors of this terrible disease.
This year’s Y-Me Softball Tournament will be held Sat., Aug. 25, St. Christina Fields and Mount Greenwood Park, 111th and Central Park. Team rosters and fees are due by Aug. 23. Players, volunteers and donors can find complete information at y-mesoftball.com.
A highlight of the Y-Me Softball Tournament day is the three-inning survivor game. The survivors who are playing may be newly diagnosed or 25 years cancer-free. While this game is fun, it is more about courage, strength, hope and faith: by playing, the survivors give back to others and share the strength of their journey.
It is with great pride that I stand among the board with such creative minds! They are always looking for ways to increase awareness and funding for Breast Cancer Research. This year, Open Outcry Brewing Company created a Y-Me craft beer and donated a portion of the proceeds directly to our cause. We are planning eat-and-earn fundraisers at Buona Beef and other local restaurants.
I am so proud to say that ALL of the proceeds from our fundraising go to support the breast cancer research of Dr. Kay McLeod, Breast Cancer Researcher for the University of Chicago, Ben May Institute. Since 2015 our organization has raised over $200,000 and assisted in real progress to eradicate this terrible disease. Ginger Rugai’s Y-Me Softball Tournament is a 501©3.
Thank you to my fellow board members for all their time and talents making this a great day working towards a common goal: a cure.