Champs raising money for trip

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — One car, one raffle ticket and one donation at a time. That’s been the blueprint for the fundraising efforts by the West Bladen summer baseball team in its quest to raise about $10,000 for the trip to their third straight Dixie Pre-Majors World Series in Guntersville, Ala.

The Knights, who are the three-time North Carolina champions, were busy Friday and Saturday selling raffle tickets and washing cars. In many cases, folks came by just to hand over a donation toward the effort.

“The fundraising has been going really well,” said West Bladen coach Kim Cain, whose team is 16-5 this summer. “People have really been generous.”

On Friday alone, a four-hour raffle-ticket sales in front of Melvin’s in downtown Elizabethtown reportedly saw nearly 1,000 tickets sold at $2 each.

According to Jenel Strickland-Cain, who is coordinating the team’s fundraising, sales of raffle tickets will continue into Wednesday, and the drawing for a $200 first-place prize will take place that day. The time and place has not yet been determined.

“We’re very happy with the way the ticket sales have gone,” she said. “It’s really something to see the community’s support.”

On Saturday — at both Advance Auto in Elizabethtown and Hester’s Tire in Bladenboro — players, coaches and parents alike were kept busy on a sunny and warm day with a steady line of vehicles to be washed. Although the cost was $5 per vehicle, most gave much more.

Even those out on the street with the signs were getting folks to stop and simply hand over a donation — sometimes as much as $60 or $80. Donna Bowen, whose son Scott is a starter on the team, was one of those who pulled in a big donation.

“They just stopped and gave me $60,” she said. “This community really wants to help.”

Throughout the fundraising campaign, the players have been working hard — both on and off the field — in preparation for their trip to the World Series.

“Between practices and things like the car wash, the boys are really putting in the time and work,” Kim Cain said. “It’s been a busy time for all of us because we don’t have any time to waste.”

The team will be leaving from Bladenboro on Thursday morning to make the 495-mile trip to Alabama. After checking into the hotel and getting settled, the opening ceremonies will take place Friday, followed by a cookout and fireworks that night.

The 12-team, double-elimination tournament will open on Saturday, and West Bladen will face off against the Alabama state champions at 10 a.m. on the Bill Moore Field. A win would put the Knights into a Sunday, 4 p.m. game against the winner of a game between Virginia and Mississippi. A loss in the first game would send West Bladen into the consolation bracket for a game against the loser of the Virginia-Mississippi game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent