Did you know that there is a non-profit organization right here in your community that raises much needed funds for families who have a child fighting cancer? Jensen’s Heart of Gold Foundation was founded in 2010 after the loss of our 5 year old son, Jensen Daniel Byrd. Jensen was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two and fought for 3 long years succumbing to his disease on August 24, 2010 at the all too young age of 5 years old.
We knew we could not go back to a normal lifestyle. On average, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer each and every day. We could not move forward turning a blind eye to that. The incident rate of childhood cancer in our own community seemed alarmingly high. It became our mission to afford those families in our area who are on the same path, the opportunity to make memories with their child. Something we feel we did not have enough of.
The inaugural and cornerstone event of the charity, the Super Slugger Softball tournament, began as a way to commemorate one of the last and fondest memories we had with our precious angel. I called upon my friends in the adult softball community to come together and play a double elimination co-ed tournament. I organized the event to name each team after a Super Mario character just as Jensen had done with us in our backyard only days before his passing. He did not let the pain deter him from living out the Super Slugger Nintendo game with us in his back yard. He put his morphine pump in his new Luigi backpack that was intended for his first day of Kindergarten, a day he never experienced.
To our surprise, 22 teams formed and came together at that 1st Annual tournament. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the turnout. The community had rallied in a big way. Fast forward to 2018 and the 8th Annual Super Slugger Softball tournament. 50 teams showed up from several different states this year on September 8th - 9th. I had to close registration 3 weeks early due to the volume of teams and the limited number of hours in a day!
The first year raised just over $8,000. JHG proudly announces that this year we grossed nearly $60,000 on that single event! We also proudly report that all expenses were covered with corporate and community sponsorships!
Since the formation of JHG, we have expanded into Central Florida with our Florida Chapter. Ran by Emily Pierce, our efforts collaboratively have raised nearly $500,000 in the last 8 years and have assisted dozens of families in need. Emily, mother of childhood cancer warrior Morgan Pierce, met our family while both children were being treated in NYC at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Our families became fast friends and continue to honor Jensen’s memory together even through their own continued 10 year battle with childhood cancer.
If you are not aware, we hope that you are now! September is childhood cancer awareness month. Gold is the color of ribbon that symbolizes that fight. If you want to get involved in your community to support the cause, visit www.jensensheartofgold.com for the many ways you can help spread awareness. Registration is also now open for the 9th Annual Super Slugger Softball Tournament on September 6-8, 2019.
What people are saying:
"As always everything about this Tournament is amazing. Having played in this tournament this being my Fifth year it gets better every year and look forward to next year."
"It is a great event and we are very grateful to be able to be a part of it. Every year it gets better."
"There is so much to love that is impossible to choose one thing ...all around best tournament hands down!!"
"We really enjoy the atmosphere, the best tournament in our area!! Third year for us and many more to come."