By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson/Marlborough – Organizers of the 17th annual Snowflake Festival Charity Kickball Tournament are currently seeking base sponsors, raffle prizes, and teams to compete Saturday, March 3, on the field at Hudson-Concord Elks Lodge 959. This year’s main beneficiary is the Marlborough family of Layla Krieger, who was diagnosed at 19 months the day after Thanksgiving 2017 with stage 4 neuroblastoma.
A group of volunteers gathers annually to organize the fundraiser for different causes each time. The tournament has usually been held at Marlborough’s Ghiloni Park. Last winter’s unseasonably warm temperatures melted snow causing muddy grounds. The tournament was moved within a couple days to outdoor fields covered with artificial turf at ForeKicks in Marlborough. For the second year, event co-chairs are Kim and Joe Otte of Hudson.
“It was a little hectic to say the least,” Kim acknowledged of the quick relocation. “We didn’t have a clue where we’d go.”
Hudson’s Elks’ field was chosen in search of a location to host the tournament in nearly any weather conditions. Kerri and Shawn Krieger, and their daughter Layla, were suggested as the main beneficiary by longtime kickball team sponsor Carol Tunnera of Tunnera & Sons Roofing. While Layla’s parents care for their daughter, her aunt Alexis Krieger Dascoli is serving as “the go-between” with tournament volunteers, Kim noted.
Layla’s parents became concerned when she developed black eyes and a bump on her forehead. She was taken for visits to a primary care physician locally, an optical expert in Waltham, and ultimately Boston Children’s Hospital for tests and surgery. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, test results found tumors on her skull and one on the lymph nodes. Surgery determined that cancer spread to the bone marrow.
Her first chemotherapy treatment was done the week after Thanksgiving. Also that week, Layla’s paternal grandmother, Veola Shannon Krieger, unexpectedly passed away at age 61.
“Layla was her first granddaughter,” her aunt Alexis explained. “We believe that seeing her granddaughter sick with cancer was too much for her.”
Layla is now on a chemo schedule with some rounds at Boston Children’s and others at Dana-Farber. Tournament proceeds will help the family with ongoing expenses including gas, parking and food.
The first several tournaments were chaired by Pat Forrest with organizers of the annual Forrest Memorial Road Race benefiting Greater Marlborough Programs, Inc., now known as Thrive, Support & Advocacy.
For several recent years, Michelle Young served as event chair assisted by the Marlborough Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3565. She’s planning to play kickball again this year and the Marlborough Eagles are expected to sponsor teams.
Teams need to have 10 players with at least three females. The team entry donation is $300. Registrations are requested by Saturday, Feb. 24.
Base sponsors’ names will be displayed on a billboard at the tournament and awards ceremony for a tax-deductible $100 donation. Raffle prizes are welcomed for the post-tournament party at the Prospector East Saloon, where its owner Bob Kays is donating food.