The 40th annual Chance Crawford Benefit Softball Tournament, that originally was scheduled for April 2020, welcomed thousands of softball enthusiasts back to Virginia’s Blue Ridge region this past weekend for three days of excellent competition in unusually pleasant weather conditions.
“We were deeply saddened to cancel last year because this event does so much to help those in need,” says Scott Scharnus, Chance Crawford Tournament Director. “To return to some normalcy this past weekend and see all of these folks competing for a great cause is a testament to the tournament’s reputation and our great staff.”
The highly successful charitable event is a regional effort put on by the cities of Salem and Roanoke and Roanoke County. 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.
This year, 157 squads from 9 different states fielded teams in the tournament’s 6 different divisions. More than 3,500 players, coaches, umpires, and officials spent a total of 1,610 hotel room nights in the valley. Hotels and motels in Salem, Roanoke and Roanoke County benefited, with participants staying in over 30 different establishments.
“Completely cancelling last year’s tournament was the last thing we wanted to do, so we put a lot of extra effort into this year’s event,” says John Shaner, Salem Parks and Recreation Director. “The tournament attracted 59 out-of-state teams and we trust that many area businesses benefitted from their presence and participation. “
Because the Botetourt Sports Complex is still closed, the tournament had to be staged without four of the diamonds it normally uses. As a result, games were played around the clock Friday and Saturday nights to complete the entire tournament by Sunday evening.
“The staff at the Moyer Complex just did an incredible job of pulling-off this event for all involved,” says Eric O’Brien, Salem Parks and Recreation Assistant Director. “This was very important for Chance’s foundation.”
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.