The 40th annual Chance Crawford Benefit Softball Tournament, scheduled for April 17-19 on fields throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge region, has been cancelled due to continued concerns related to the COVID-19 virus.
“After a great deal of thought and consideration, it is with deep sadness that we have to cancel the 40th Chance Crawford Benefit Tournament for this year,” says Scott Scharnus, Tournament Director. “With no timeline on when we will be getting back to some sort of normalcy, and with many other scheduled tournaments planned throughout the remainder of the year, there simply wasn’t a way to reschedule this tournament and do it justice.”
The highly successful charitable event is a regional effort put on by the cities of Salem and Roanoke and the counties of Roanoke and Botetourt. In 39 years, the tournament has taken in over $800,000, and put that money right back in the hands of individuals with health problems, as well as deserving college students who need financial assistance. These funds are also used to help support youth sports throughout the greater Roanoke Valley.
“We are working on a plan that would still allow us to gather funds needed to deliver scholarships and financial hardship money to the people who truly need it the most,” says Scharnus. “This tournament is not just about playing softball. More importantly, the participants come back year-after-year and play to help change the lives of those who need assistance in times like these.”
The Chance Crawford Softball Tournament began in the spring of 1981 to help a young Salem High School quarterback, Chance Crawford, who suffered a spinal cord injury during one of his football games. The purpose of the original event was to raise money to help Chance and his family with the expenses of his education, physical therapy and other medical needs due to his injury.
After Chance graduated from college, he was elected Clerk of Court for the City of Salem and the Chance Crawford Tournament Committee decided to continue the tournament in his honor, but use the proceeds from the tournament to help those in need in the community with their own medical and education expenses.
“We know cancelling this event is a hardship for many folks, including those who rely on the teams to fill restaurants and hotel rooms,” says John Shaner, Salem Parks and Recreation Director. “We’ll be back next spring and, hopefully, the Chance Crawford will be bigger and better than ever.”