In trying to come up with fundraising ideas for his newly established nonprofit, the McCline Veterans Fund, Egg Harbor Township resident Tim McCline last year decided to do something that would set his group apart.
Rather than host a beef-and-beer or spaghetti dinner, McCline decided to tap into the broad popularity of team sports with a softball tournament, and the August event proved successful far beyond its organizer's expectations.
This year, the follow-up will take the form of a kickball tournament, which McCline said he believes should make it even more accessible - and successful.
"We thought it would be something fun, that everyone could enjoy," said McCline, who runs the fund with his wife, Lori. "It's coed, open to men and women, adults. We're hoping to raise enough money to duplicate what we did last year, or even do better."
The tournament will take place July 20 at the Egg Harbor Township High School softball fields. Registration is first-come, first-served, and costs $40 per person. Teams must field a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12 members. Registration ends July 7, and spots are filling fast.
McCline established the veterans' fund early last year in honor of his father, Dave, who died in 2010. The elder McCline, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war, long dealt with complications due to Agent Orange exposure, which left the family with a mountain of medical bills.
Funds raised by the McCline Veterans' Fund last year were used to provide a medical grant to a local veteran and two scholarships to graduating EHTHS seniors. All awards were worth $500. The group also has donated to the USO Holiday Box Program, the Power of Pride Program at EHTHS, and served dinner to veterans at the Somers Point American Legion.
The group decided to switch formats this year because a few of the groups that showed up were competitive travel squads, which upset the relaxed tone McCline was going for.
"You don't find too many traveling kickball teams," said friend and Egg Harbor Township resident Ed Bertino, who helped plan the event. "We figured it would be a more laid-back atmosphere."
The McCline Veterans Fund has been embraced by the community, and so far, Quality Home Center of Cape May Court House and Northfield-based CJ Adams Insurance have pledged to sponsor teams.
Adam Miller, vice president at CJ Adams and a longtime friend of the McCline family, said his office was glad to support the fund.
"It's a good cause," Miller said. "I think what (Tim) does, providing this money for these veterans, is a fantastic idea, and there's no better person to make it in honor of than Dave McCline."
If the kickball tournament proves to be a success, McCline hopes it will enable the group to fund more and larger scholarships and veterans' grants and make bigger contributions to other charitable programs. He plans to follow this tournament up with a street hockey tournament in September.
Contact Braden Campbell:
If you go
What: McCline Veterans' Fund Kickball Tournament
When: 9 a.m. July 7
Where: Egg Harbor Township High School fields
How much: $40 per person