ROXBURY, NJ – The tumor in little Joey Clayton’s brain is real and it can’t be removed with a scalpel. On the first summertime Saturday of the year, people will gather in Succasunna hoping imagination might help do the trick.
They’ll join at Horseshoe Lake Park, swinging plastic bats at dancing, diving plastic balls. The imagination part comes next: If somebody at the plate in the 10th Annual Roxbury PBA Wiffleball Tournament manages to connect their whooshing bat with that slotted, whistling ball, they will send imaginary baserunners into action.
The participants will have paid $125 per team to cheer as they envision their fantasy runners rounding the bases. That money will be donated to Joey’s parents to help offset the costs of trying to save the boy’s life. So, in a sense, the June 27 tournament has the potential to turn fantasy into wonderful reality.
“It’s an inoperable tumor,” said Roxbury Police Patrolman Brian Feeney, who is organizing the tournament. He said Joey’s parents - Jennifer Clayton and her husband Joseph, a U.S. Marines gunnery sergeant stationed at Picatinny Arsenal – are facing medical bills not covered by insurance.
“The PBA gets nothing,” said Feeney. “All proceeds this year go to Joey. Participants get a T-shirt and a free lunch. The rest goes to Joey.”
The patrolman has yet to meet the Claytons. He heard about them from Jason Dimick, a man whose daughter was the recipient of fundraising from a prior tournament. “He’s played ever since,” said Feeney. “And if he’s unable to play, he’s given a donation to the tournament.”
Over the past nine years, the PBA has donated about $131,000 in money raised by its tournaments, according to Feeney. “My goal, every year, is to get $20,000,” he said.
The Claytons couldn’t be contacted. According to Feeney, Joey was found in December to have inoperable high-grade astrocytoma or glioblastoma. He’s already undergone more than 30 rounds of chemotherapy and will continue to be treated that way for at least a year.
The wiffleball tournament is one of several fundraising efforts on behalf of Joey Clayton. There is also “Team Joey” website, a gofundme.com page set up by his father’s Marine Corps colleagues, a T-shirt sales site, a gofundme.com page set up by his aunt, a Facebook page and an upcoming formal dinner at Zeris Inn in Mountain Lakes.
The wiffleball games begin at 9 a.m. and will run into the evening. Feeney hopes to have a full house of 3- or 4-member teams.
“We cut it off at 60 teams,” he said, noting people of all ages can play. “We have male and female. We have old and young. In fact, you really get to see how old you are after all day of throwing that little plastic ball. It hurts.”
Feeney can be contacted at 973-449-2098 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the tournament is more than two months away, it might be smart to start practicing now just in case a local version of Wiffleboy28 shows up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ulp6dsF4iVA