VERONA, NJ - It began as a conversation at the gym and escalated to a charitable tournament that sold out in under two hours.  One of the organizers, Shawn Luftglass describes the event as a "true team effort" from both the residents and the business community, noting that he was amazed at the response and how quickly it all came together.    

"It started out as two guys working out at a local gym and seeing a cornhole tournament on ESPN and saying 'hey we could do that,'" said Luftglass.  "And then talking about it further we thought wouldn't it be great to do it to raise money for a good cause."

Thus the 1st Annual Verona Charity Cornhole Tournament was born -- all money raised will go to Team Zoey, a foundation that raises money for progeria research and is named after Verona second-grader Zoey Penny.  

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For the uninitiated, cornhole is a lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of corn at a raised platform with a hole in the far end.  The Verona tournament will be held indoors on Saturday at Fred Hill Academy located at 5 Fairview Ave. from 4 to 7 p.m. 

Once the idea, was born Luftglass and his co-organizers Chris Heimerle, Chris Kenrick, Brendan Walsh, Ryan Dacey, and Phil Dyer of Dynamic Speed and Fitness set the plan in motion.  They established a Facebook page to allow for registration.  Due to space constraints they limited it to 32 teams. 

In typical Verona fashion, the response and support of the community was immediate and overwhelming.  Luftglass said within two hours the event was sold out and people were mad they couldn't get in.

Sponsorships quickly filled up as well, with local businesses having an opportunity to sponsor a cornhole board on which the game is played.  Other businesses and families have stepped to donate gift cards, Mets/Yankees tickets, an Ibanez guitar and other exciting prizes.  Frank Anthony's is donating all of the food and paper products for the event.  Local DJ John Hromoko will provide the soundtrack for the tournament and the party will continue after the tournament at the Verona Inn.

"The way it all came together and the way the town has stepped up has been amazing," Luftglass noted.  

Though the teams have filled up, there is still a spectator option for those who want to join in the fun. Spectator tickets can be purchased via https://squareup.com/store/teamzoey/item/cornhole-tournament
for $25.00 per ticket.  To make a donation to the event and Team Zoey visit https://squareup.com/store/teamzoey/ and scroll down to the donations section.  

Overwhelmed and excited by the community's response, Luftglass and his fellow organizers are planning to create a non-profit organization and hold more charitable events in the future.  

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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