PHILIPSBURG — In Philipsburg, the name Keno Beezer is synonymous with baseball and kids.
So when the Philipsburg-Osceola Educational Foundation decided to put on a fundraiser, foundation member Brian Pelka, who is also the principal at the Osceola Mills Elementary School, pitched the idea of a wiffle ball tournament.
Another member asked Beezer, who is also a foundation member, if they could use his name and he agreed.
From there, the Inugural Keno Beezer Wiffle Ball Tournament hosted by the Philipsburg-Osceola Educational Foundation was born.
The tournament will be held on Saturday, September 8 at the Philipsburg Elks Country Club beginning at 10 a.m.
The fundraiser is one Pelka hopes will become a large event and raise money for the POEF, which distributes the money to students through scholarships and plans to start giving out mini-grants to its teachers and organizations.
“We are always looking for a way to get our feet wet and really get the POEF out there,” he said. “There is a history to this wiffle ball tournament. For about 20 years consistently, there was a two-man wiffle ball tournament in the area. It started in Osceola and it grew and grew.
“It became an annual event. It has been discountinued for the last eight years because it was a lot to host.
“We are picking up that tradition and hope to make it an annual event.”
The POEF, which is in its fourth year, is a 501(c)(3)organization that was established to receive the generous, tax-deductible donations made by friends of the district and to then use those gifts to improve the educational experience for all learners and in furtherance of the stated mission of the Foundation. In the future, the Foundation plans to offer scholarship opportunities, purchase and procure necessary educational resources, support athletic and extracurricular activities, and reward academic excellence and professional achievement, just to name a few.
“People can donate and write it off on their taxes,” Pelka said. “All of the money goes back to students. Donators can designate where they would like their money to go. You could give it to the band or the science department or just make it a donation that can go wherever the foundation sees a need.”
The idea to get Beezer involved was part of the foundation’s hope to bring some name recognition to the event.
“A fellow member had an idea to use his name,” Pelka said. “We asked Keno if he would mind and he said since it was for the kids he was all for it.”
The foundation hopes to move the event to July if it’s a success. This year the wiffle ball tournament falls on the same day as the Penn State-Pitt game, which begins at 8 p.m.
“We are going to start at 10 a.m. at the Elks,” said Pelka. “We will be done in plenty of time for the game. We also want to thank the Elks for giving us the grounds and helping with the food and drink.”
The tournament is a three-person, double elimination tournament. The cost is $75 for one team, which also includes food and drink. For those wanting to come watch and socialize, it is $15 for food and drink only if RSVPed to Pelka before the tournament. It is $20 the day of the tourney.
“We are limiting the number of teams the first year,” Pelka said. “We really want it to be a fun day for everyone. We are considering having a home run derby and we will have some raffle prizes as well.”
So far, the POEF will be raffling off a Matt Adams autographed bat, a 32-inch television, a gas grill and a lawnmower.
Pelka said the foundation is still accepting donations from area businesses as well.
In addition, there will be sign-ups for t-shirts for $10. The shirts will come in a few weeks after the conclusion of the tournament Pelka said.
Spectators are encouraged to bring a lawn chair. Beezer will be throwing out the first pitch as well.
Those interested in entering a team or donating to the event can call Pelka at 814-343-4105 or email him at email@example.com.
“We have a small group on the foundation, six people, who are working hard to make it happen,” said Pelka. “I know if we can make it a moderate success the first year, we can continue the tradition and make it bigger each year. All of the money goes to P-O students. Bringing in Keno and the foundation, it’s a win-win.”
Pelka said team entries will close on Sept. 5 so that the foundation can draw the brackets.