Summer may be coming to a close, but one area group is getting ready for the fall season by hosting a day filled with classic Chicago softball.
On Saturday, Sept. 27, Opportunity Knocks will be hosting its eighth annual OK Classic Softball Tournament at the Forest Park Softball Fields on Harrison Street. Opportunity Knocks, or “OK,” is a not for profit organization based in River Forest that serves “Warriors,” or young adults with developmental disabilities in the Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park communities.
Since 2006, the OK Classic charity softball event has been the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. OK President Phil Carmody says the inspiration behind the event was originally planned as a memorial tournament to pay tribute to close family friend and OK supporter Kathy Garrigan who had recently passed away.
“Softball was her sport and one that many of us had long been passionate about,” Carmody said. “It just made good sense to remember her this way. The outcome of that first event was so impressive. It was a major turning point for our confidence in the ability to move the mission of OK forward. It was great evidence to how special a community this is.”
With assistance from 45 sponsors, 100 volunteers, 380 softball players, 1,000 private donors and local attendees, OK is hoping for yet another successful softball fundraiser.
The OK Classic will officially start with the throwing of the first pitch at 7:30 a.m. and will be followed with the playing of softball games all day leading up to the championship game scheduled for 9 p.m.
New to the OK Classic this year will be the softball showdown game at noon featuring the OK Warriors playing against the Bobcats of the West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA), a local organization that offers programming for individuals with various disabilities and handicaps.
Carmody considers the tournament to be one of the greatest examples of how OK has a unique atmosphere with energy for focusing on strengthening members of the community with various disabilities and empowering their families and friends.
“I think this is going to be a special opportunity for our community to connect with the purpose of this mission,” Carmody added. “What I think makes us special is our connection to our community. It’s the relationships.”
The OK Classic will also feature its first annual “Restaurant Wars” in which five area chefs will be paired with one of OK’s Warriors in a cooking competition. Local food and beverage will also be available throughout the day from area businesses including Alpine Food Shop, Big Guys Sausage, Skrine Chops, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Deep Eddy Cocktails and Original Ferrara Bakery. A Kid’s Fun Zone will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and live music performances begin at noon, along with screenings of the day’s college football games on a big screen.
“From kids to grandparents, we have assembled a tournament that is complimented by a full-on festival and it is just downright fun times,” Carmody said.
Admission for the OK Classic is free and anyone looking to help volunteer with the event and learn more about OK is encouraged to call 708-771-6159 or visit opportunityknocksnow.org.