Second SLAMDiabetes tourney to take over NPHS Saturday

Second SLAMDiabetes tourney to take over NPHS Saturday

NORTH PROVIDENCE - A childhood pastime will again be transformed into a powerful vehicle of change for people battling Type 1 diabetes when the SLAMDiabetes Rhode Island Classic 2013 returns for a second time to North Providence High School this Saturday, Aug. 24.

Games will begin at 9 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 11 a.m., followed by a home run derby. Games continue through the afternoon, with the championship matchup slated for 5:30 p.m. The round-robin tournament features teams competing for wiffle ball glory, according to organizers, while finding satisfaction in helping make a difference in the fight against Type 1 diabetes. Like other SLAMDiabetes Classic Tournaments around New England, participants play a childhood game while helping to defeat one of the most serious illnesses diagnosed in younger populations. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease for which there is currently no cure.

At SLAMDiabetes tournaments, participants get the chance to try to hit a home run off of former pros. Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Sam Horn and Rick Miller have all participated. Tournaments feature colorful uniforms, umpires, fun music, and the National Anthem.

SLAMDiabetes tournaments are catching on throughout New England and, starting this year, will reach as far as Florida, according to founder Jeff Kolok, who has two children of three who suffer from the disease. In December, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld will be hosting a SLAMDiabetes tournament to benefit children with the disease in Florida. In just two years since these tournaments began, hundreds of teams, thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been dedicated to fighting Type 1 diabetes.

Kolok said that one of the biggest battles for those suffering from Type 1 diabetes and their caregivers is to convince people that this "terrible disease" has nothing to do with their eating certain unhealthy foods or failing to exercise.

"Kids don't have a choice, and there's no cure," he said.

A person with Type 1 diabetes typically has a lifespan about 15 years shorter than a healthy person, said Kolok. There are serious complications even with the most intensive management program, he said.

By the time Kolok's 4-year-old daughter reaches her 30th birthday, she'll have been injected with a needle between 75,000 and 100,000 times, he said.

The money from SLAMDiabetes tournaments mostly goes toward education and support for families suffering from the disease, according to Kolok. Kolok is encouraging anyone who wants to watch some competitive wiffle ball to come to North Providence High School on Saturday. Anyone who wants to can also pay to participate in the home run derby, a highlight of the day, he said.

Kolok said he plans to hold next year's North Providence SLAMDiabetes tournament once school has started to make sure more people can participate. Visit www.slamdiabetes.com .