Tourney raises cash for Relay for Life

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2003

VIDALIA, La. &045; Relay for Life’s paintball tournament fund-raiser, held Sunday at the Vidalia High football field, raised more than $700 for the American Cancer Society.

And judging from the enthusiasm of the 20 participants and dozens of spectators, it raised a few heartbeats as well.

Eryn Secrest of Vidalia &045; at 12, the oldest member of the team The Bullets &045; said the favorite part of her first paintball experience &uot;was getting up there and going ‘bam, bam, bam.’ I’d even like to play next year.&uot;

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In paintball, players on opposing teams use carbon dioxide-powered guns to shoot gelatin capsule at each other. The capsules, filled with washable paint, burst on impact. Once you’re marked, you’re out. In Sunday’s tournament, the object was to capture a white flag in the center of the field. To do that, players on each team had to sprint from bunker to bunker &045; actually wooden pallets and orange traffic barrels &045; without getting shot. Bayou Paintball of Monroe provided Saturday’s equipment.

But event organizer Charlene Rushing, herself a breast cancer survivor, got the biggest rush from seeing how much the day-long tournament raised.

By the time the event started at 10 a.m., Relay for Life had already raised $700 from the 20 players’ entry fees alone &045; and that’s not counting concessions, whose numbers were not available as of press time, Rushing said. Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s biggest annual fund-raiser, raises money to fight cancer, to support those affected it and raise public awareness about the disease.

Toward that end, volunteers came together in recent weeks to organize the event, from soliciting donations of hotdog buns to publicizing the event. The Relay for Life team of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church set up the playing field.

But the event would not have been nearly as successful if the volunteers had to pay for the equipment and to regulate play themselves.

That is where Bayou Paintball came in.

Once her husband, Kenny, got the idea for a paintball tournament &045; after their son, Ryan, got a paintball gun for Christmas &045; Rushing started to call around to see about getting insurance for such an event.

Beaux Pilgrim of Reed Insurance informed her that that agency didn’t provide that type of insurance, but he knew of a paintball field and supply store that held events &045; and held an off-premises insurance policy to cover them.

&uot;We have done some benefits before, and we just wanted to help them any way we can,&uot; said Julie Bradshaw, owner of Bayou Paintball in Monroe. Nearby, Bayou Paintball Manager Pat Parks helped referee play on the field. &uot;The goal today is to raise as much money as we can.&uot;

And if you can have fun, relieve stress and claim bragging rights in the bargain, said players, all the better.