Metro Weekly

“Cornhole for a Cause” tournament to raise money for SMYAL

Teams of two will compete for cash prizes as they seek to raise money for LGBTQ youth

Photo: John Jack Photography.

Is there a way to combine a popular tailgating game with philanthropy? Yes, if you talk to Dan Ferrucci, the organizer of the biannual Cornhole for a Cause tournament.

“Cornhole for a Cause actually became my brainchild,” says Ferrucci. “Our Stonewall Kickball team used to do a small team mixer with another team, and we’d play each other for a championship. The thing is, for Stonewall, each team is required to raise $250 for a charity or local organization each season. So we thought, ‘Why don’t we turn this into a fundraiser?’ and launched the first tournament in the fall of 2017.”

On Saturday, May 11, the fourth Cornhole for a Cause tournament will take place outside Stead Park, on the stretch of Church St. NW between 17th Street and the park, lodged between JR.’s Bar and Grubb’s NW Specialty Pharmacy.

Cornhole, a game that has become popular at football tailgates, involves a combination of some arm strength and finesse, as teams of two toss small bags filled with dried corn at a target consisting of an inclined wooden platform with a hole at one end. Points are given for landing a bag on the board, and additional points for threading it through the hole in the board.

Ferrucci says that, while the event was initially started by people involved with Stonewall Kickball, the event is no longer affiliated with Stonewall Sports. The team that originally started the tournament was Kick Tease, then KIQI (Kick It and Quit It), and then District Jocks. Ferrucci, who is not playing with Stonewall this season, wanted to make sure the tournament would continue its tradition of raising money for a good cause, even thought it’s no longer directly affiliated with Stonewall or a specific team.

Because Kick Tease’s original charity was SMYAL, Ferrucci has continued to use the tournament to raise money for the LGBTQ youth advocacy organization. Last year, in the fall, the tournament raised more than $15,000 for SMYAL, and, when coupled with the earnings from last year’s spring tournament, more than $28,000 over the course of 2018.

In past years, tournament winners were rewarded with prizes like memberships to VIDA, but this year, the tournament is offering cash prizes: $400 for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place (ideally split evenly between two team members).

There will also be a raffle in conjunction with the tournament, where participants have the chance to win tickets to shows at the Kennedy Center, Washington Nationals tickets, tickets to local soccer team DC United’s United Night OUT on June 26, a five-pack session for local fitness hotspot Cut Seven, and different gift cards to a variety of restaurants around the city. Payments are accepted either in cash or via Venmo.

Photo courtesy of Dan Ferrucci.

JR.’s Bar serves as a home base for the tournament while it is going on, and will have drink specials available for competitors. The after-party will be held at Pitchers DC once the winners have been announced, notes Ferrucci.

To participate, teams must submit an entry fee of $50, which covers entry to the tournament, 15 raffle tickets, two drink cards redeemable at JR.’s, a drink bracelet for drink specials at JR.’s and Pitchers. The event will be capped at 64 teams, with spots awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Deadline for registration is midnight on May 10.

Ferrucci says he hopes to raise more than $16,000, which would top the amount raised during the last tournament. And the event will go on, regardless of what the weather conditions are.

“This is a rain or shine event,” he says, noting that the tournament can be moved inside as a last resort if needed. “Knock on wood, we haven’t had a problem with that. We try not to wish such bad luck on ourselves, but we always have a backup plan.”

The fourth Cornhole for a Cause tournament is on Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. outside Stead Park, at 1660 Church St. NW. All proceeds benefit SMYAL. For tickets and more information, visit www.eventbrite.com. For more information on SMYAL and its work with LGBTQ youth, visit www.smyal.org.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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