On January 21, the Jason Taylor Foundation introduced the inaugural Wizard Creations’ Whiffle Blast presented by Sports Chiropractic and Natural Health Solutions, a charity-driven family event that aimed to raise funds for children battling cancer and pediatric medical emergencies. The event featured an interactive a day full of live entertainment on the Dance Theatre Main Stage, a home run derby presented by South Florida Ford, a fully interactive KidZone, a wellness-based trade show, a variety of food trucks and, of course, a whiffle ball tournament featuring nearly thirty teams. All participants contributed to the cause.
The event was made possible by Dr. Todd Rodman, owner and physician at Sports Chiropractic and Natural Health Solutions, who came up with the concept, as well as Luke Freeman, president and founder of Wizard Creations. They worked closely with Sean Todd, director of operations at the Jason Taylor Foundation, to recruit participants, plan the logistics and execute the event.
“We put on Whiffle Blast because the Jason Taylor Foundation and SIDES [where a portion of funds raised are being allocated] are two amazing organizations that do such good for our community,” said Freeman “We wanted to help give back to our community and to two organizations that do so much for so many others.”
Seth Levit, executive director of the Jason Taylor Foundation, said he was blown away by the reception the tournament had.
“Todd [Rodman] had a vision and it really came to life,” said Levit.
The activities were kicked off with a ceremonial pitch by Cody Vester, a burn survivor representing Holtz Children’s Hospital and the National Anthem sung by Sarah Demetrius, a student from Express the Arts at McArthur High School.
Then it was off to the races. Despite the natural competitive nature of some of the players, teams seemed to enjoy learning the game.
“I had never played whiffle ball before, so just watching the different levels of different people was really cool,” confirmed Corbin Stacy, lululemon ambassador and Whiffle Blast player.
Stacy’s teammate, Gabriele Schlicht, agreed that the event was fun and a good way to unite the community.
“It definitely brings people together,” she said.
The Whiffle Blast KidZone was filled with interactive inflatables and activities such as Kid’s CrossFit and yoga. Rodman said that having children engaged in the event was particularly important to him so that they can see the impact they can have on other people.
“We’re out here to have fun but there are a lot of kids [out in the world] that aren’t having fun,” said Rodman “I hope the kids walk away having a great day, learning a little bit about whiffle ball. And I’m just hoping that we can really start something that we can build on for years to come.”
Nearby, the main stage, presented by the Dance Theatre Company, featured a DJ, vocal performances from Brett Preiser and Marnino Toussaint, a fashion show brought by ivivva and a dance recital featuring incredibly talented youth from the stage partner.
Volunteers were also a driving force behind the event. From monitoring games at the KidZone, setting up equipment throughout the day, umpiring whiffle ball games and helping clean up a the end of a long, action-packed day, community volunteers came together to make Whiffle Blast a cohesive experience.
“I’ve never been a part of something so original,” said Kiki O’Hara, a freshman volunteering with the rest of St. Thomas University’s softball team. She felt that the idea of a whiffle tournament was a nice twist on fundraising.
“I’m pretty sure if they have it again, the entire team is going to come,” said O’Hara, who said she liked her role as umpire, but was almost jealous she wasn’t participating in the games herself.
After the completion of the regular season, which consisted of round-robin style play within each division, the top teams out of each group advanced to the 8-team playoffs. the first Whiffle Blast playoffs featured teams representing the Miami Dolphins, #CareForClaire, Wizard Creations, Sports Chiropractic, West Palm Beach / Boynton Beach Fire Department, Coral Springs Police and South Florida Ford.
Just before the big game, the Whiffle Blast Home Run Derby saw Karl Wiezandt as its first winner.In a close championship game, the WPB/Boynton Beach Fire Department were victorious against the Coral Springs Police. They named Lauren Lopez their MVP.
Overall, Whiffle Blast met the goals set by Rodman, Freeman and the Jason Taylor Foundation. There was fun, there was unity and there was help for the community.
“I hope [everyone] had a good time and I hope they know that what they did meant something,” said Levit. “A lot of young people will be helped because of what they did.”