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Wellesley Lions cancel this year’s Don Green slo-pitch fundraiser due to coronavirus concerns

[File Photo]

Add the Don Green slo-pitch tournament to the list of local events that have been cancelled thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last few weeks, municipalities and organizations have made the difficult decision to cancel many of the usual summer event. The likes of Canada Day celebrations and the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival have been scrapped this year due to public-safety concerns related to the novel coronavirus.

Despite the event being a few months away, the Wellesley and District Lions Club recently decided to put on hiatus its biggest fundraiser of the year, what would have been the 36th annual slo-pitch tournament, an activity they’ve been running for about 10 years.

Blair Cressman, acting president of the club, says they postponed making a decision while they waited for the government’s position on reopening from the lockdown. However, after the most recent announcement from the province, the club decided it would not be possible to run the event.

“It’s a tough situation from a whole bunch of facets as far as doing the right thing for both the participants and volunteers’ safety. Liability for the club and even concerns around getting the insurance that is necessary to run the tournament in partnership with the township, and [even] just the optics were some of the bigger items of having an event like the tournament, which involves a large gathering of friends, neighbours and community people… it’s tough but we want to do what’s right at this time,” said Cressman. “We look forward to coming back with a strong tournament in 2021.”

The club also considered postponing the tournament, pushing it into September, but Cressman says there was hesitation from older members from the Lions because larger events like the ABC Festival and fall fair had already been removed from this year’s docket.

“With those events falling in September, and for us to just postpone by one month, we have to be mindful of the conditions and the right atmosphere from large tournaments. We just felt it would be the right thing for us to be a leader and cancel it this year and come back stronger in 2021,” he added.

Started in the 1980s by the family of the late Don Green, a man well known in the agriculture community, the tournament run in his honour was taken over by the club about a decade ago. Since then, the Lions have put on a tournament that normally consists of 16 teams across multiple divisions, bringing out at least 200 players, and even more volunteers and spectators.

Normally the money raised from the tournament is given to sports and recreation service projects within the community in memory of Green. To make up for the lost funds, the club is looking into working with the township and community partners to come up with ideas for events in lieu of the tournament.

Cressman says they are just starting to put together a committee to start looking into what they can collectively come up with, however, “it’s still very early and it’s likely an event won’t happen until the late-fall.”

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