ITSACA, Ill. — A Wiffle ball tournament and silent auction were held on Sunday in honor of a 13-year-old sports fanatic who died of an asthma attack in February.
Fifty-five teams from first graders to adults competed in the inaugural Bennet Classic Wiffle Ball Tournament to benefit BT8, a foundation dedicated to keeping Bennet’s memory alive.
Little league teammates, family and friends all joined together on Sunday to remember the life of a boy who loved to spend time playing sports.
“All of us kids love playing Wiffle ball and he was always the best, so we wanted to support him,” Bennet’s friend Nick Cammarata said.
Friends and family say Wiffle ball was one of Bennet’s favorite things to do every day, each summer.
“Every summer, me and him, Wiffle ball every day. Whenever we wake up, go play Wiffle ball. Go home, eat, wiffle ball,” said Bennet’s brother, Bryce Taft.
Itasca Police Officer Keith Endres, who was the first person to respond to the emergency call, says he was honored to throw the first pitch at the inaugural game and have the chance to keep Bennet’s memory alive.
“Having that happen to me in my career, obviously, it affected me harder than anyone can ever expect,” Endres said. “It was a complete honor for me to come out, throw that first pitch, and just be a part of this and be a part of Bennet’s family, for the rest of my life for sure.”
Money raised during the event went towards a scholarship that will be awarded to a Lake Park High School student athlete. Bennet’s mother came up with the idea for the scholarship after her son’s memorial service.
“It was just a sea of baseball uniforms and basketball uniforms and I just wanted to give back to the community that he grew up in,” Bennet’s mother, Jenna Taft, said. “So today, a large part of the proceeds are going to go to a scholarship fund that we hope to give out at the end of the school year.”
The nonprofit also held a silent auction and raffle featuring prizes that were donated by businesses and Chicago sports teams with the goal of raising $10,000.
“The only thing I asked Bennet for was sunshine, and he made that happen for us, so we’re happy.” Bennet’s mother said.
The 10-hour tournament took place in the field behind Bennet’s school, F.E. Peacock Junior High School.