ROXBURY, NJ –The pinging of aluminum bats, baseballs flying and the smell of a barbeque set the scene for the Fifth Annual Landon Monro Baseball Tournament in Succasunna on Sunday.
The event has changed over the years - now gathering more sponsors than ever according to organizers. Despite the growth, the message of the event stays the same: having fun and raising money to help cancer patients.
Succasunna resident Landon Monro, now a Roxbury High School sophomore, was inspired to create the event in the fall of 2013 when he saw a Stand Up to Cancer promotion at the Major League All-Star Game. Stand Up to Cancer is a nonprofit organization working to provide cancer patients with new therapies quickly.
Monro and his mother, Dayna Monro, went to work preparing the tournament and then, three months before the inaugural event the Monros got bad news: Landon's uncle was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
Because of that, and many other reasons, Dayna Monro said the charity tournament is important to the Monro family. She said she is thrilled by the level of support it gets from the community.
The tournament raised over $20,000 total in years prior.
Despite being threatened by rain, Sunday's tournament took place and carried on into the early evening. The first game was baseball for the youngest kids. After that came a game of softball. Both were played on grass.
A rain date had been set for Sunday's event and it almost became necessary. But morning showers eventually cleared and the tournament - despite starting late - went off successfully. Dayna Monro said some players didn't show up out of concern with the weather early on. However, she said the game with younger kids “had a greater turnout than last year.”
After the two games on the grass, the action moved to the baseball field for a game with older kids. Later on came the last game – softball for adults.
After holding the event for years now, Monro has felt himself change. He said he “can talk to people about [the event] more easily and get more sponsors.”
He also has gone from playing second base and the outfield on travel and recreational teams to playing catcher on his travel team and playing “basically anywhere” on the Roxbury High School team, according to his mother.
Monro has big dreams for the future and said he wants the event “to get bigger and bigger” every year. One thing he doesn't want to see change: The friendly and fun atmosphere.