Local firefighters, police and community members united to compete in the inaugural Conner A. Kleffel Memorial Softball Tournament at the Leesport Playground Ball Fields on June 22 and 23.
A total of 12 teams participated, including members of fire companies from Leesport, Shoemakersville, Walnuttown, and Greenfields; Fraternal Order of Police players from Northern Berks, Muhlenberg, Lower Heidelberg, Berks County Sheriff’s Department, Exeter, Hamburg, Spring Township; and several local community teams, including Conner Kleffel’s teammates.
All money raised will go toward the Conner Kleffel Memorial Fund,. The funds will then be given to a local family or individual within the community who is in need of some assistance. The Kleffel family will be choosing that recipient within the next few weeks.
“I hope this event helped show how strong our local community is in times of need,” said Richard Sensenig, an organizer for the event. “We had so many people come out to cheer on teams, make donations for raffle prizes, etc. all in hopes of raising enough money to help out another family.”
About 500 people came out to see the competition.
“The local community has shown that regardless of the all the negative news in the world, there are still good people who will support others in their times of need,” he said. “The Kleffel family has certainly needed that support in the past 7 months and so many people have stepped in to provide it. Now they can return the favor to someone else.”
Sensenig credited the cooperation of so many great families and local organizations that made this event a success and the Kleffel family for starting a memorial fund that they were able to help contribute to. He also recognized the volunteers, “who basically lived at the fields for two days to keep the tournament on schedule” and the tournament participants “who were willing to come out and play to honor a kid most of them never got the privilege to meet.”
“The entire event was great. There was great camaraderie with everyone involved,” said Sensenig. “It is truly amazing to see how people will come together to lift each other up.”
Sensenig said they also had the honor of having a local 5-year-old boy who has just beat cancer come to throw out the first pitch of the game.
“As a gift, he received one of Connor’s home run balls from the Kleffels. That was also a pretty special moment this weekend.”
Sensenig said Connor has always been a huge presence at the Schuylkill Valley Little League fields.
“He spent countless hours at the fields helping to prepare them for games and practices. Connor always had a positive outlook and encouraged others around him to do their best. It was great to see his teammates and coaches get the opportunity to play in his memory,” said Sensenig.
Conner, 13, was killed as the result of an off-road vehicle accident in November 2017.
“Baseball was a huge part of his life so it only made sense to organize a tournament in his honor,” said Sensenig.