It’s amazing what a community can accomplish when residents and local businesses come together.

On Sunday, August 7 the Welland Chiefs Baseball Club hosted their first charity baseball game, Strike Out Stigma, to support local mental health programs and services. Thanks to the dedication of Event Chairs Jennifer Richards and Steve Maurice, the Welland Chiefs baseball team, and their cohort of volunteers, the event was a great success! Nearly 200 people attended, including 30 players between the two Niagara District Baseball Association (NDBA) teams and 20 dedicated, friendly volunteers.

Strike Out Stigma Volunteers and Jennifer Richards (middle)While they lost a close game against the St. Catharines Cobras, their fundraising efforts counted as an inspiring win for anyone impacted by mental illness in the Niagara Region. Strike Out Stigma raised an astounding $5,000 for mental health and raffled off over 50 incredible prizes.

“One of the coolest things about the prizes was the variety of stuff we had donated. There was something there for everyone,” says Richards. Their Platinum sponsor, ProActive Chiropractic, even donated some prizes in addition to sponsoring the event.

The charity event was inspired by the Fort Erie Knights’ efforts to raise money for cancer research three years ago. Recognizing that mental health is everyone’s concern, Richards and Maurice decided, “Why not host a charity game for mental health?” They, along with several of the baseball players on the Welland Chiefs team, know many people who live with or have been touched by a mental illness.

Their goal is to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and increase support for local mental health initiatives. “We want to make sure that whatever services are needed are there for the people seeking them out.”

They hope to see even more people in the seats next year. “We’d love to see more sponsors, too,” says Richards.

If you missed this year’s Strike Out Stigma charity baseball game, don’t worry. Richards says the team will be hosting another charity game for CMHA Niagara next year! It will happen near the end of July or sometime in August, depending on their season schedule. Keep the event in mind for next summer!