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North Huntingdon EMS gives usual fundraisers the boot with kickball tourney

| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When North Huntingdon EMS/Rescue launched a program this year to prevent problems that could lead to hospital stays, officials knew finding the money to fund it might be a problem.

Grants and insurance wouldn't pay for such a program, which involves paramedics visiting people in their homes to conduct wellness checks.

But rather than raise money for its new Community Paramedicine program with hoagie sales, bingo or other traditional fundraisers, the paramedics decided to try something different.

Shane Spielvogle, executive director of North Huntingdon EMS/Rescue, said the department's billing specialist, Kelly Pirl, suggested kickball.

Pirl said she learned about adult kickball through social media and signed up to play with a league that holds games in North Park.

“Some of the fire stations have golf outings as fundraisers, which is great, but not everybody plays golf,” Pirl said. “But pretty much anybody can play kickball. It's an easy, inexpensive game and a whole lot of fun.”

In addition to commitments to participate from several North Huntingdon fire companies and ambulance services, teams will be fielded by Forbes Regional Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center trauma center and the Transitions Healthcare nursing home in North Huntingdon.

The concept for holding adult kickball games “was born in a bar in Washington, D.C., by four men looking for a way to stay social as young professionals,” according to the website for the World Adult Kickball Association, or WAKA.

The organization was established in 1998 and is providing the rules and guidelines for North Huntingdon's tournament.

North Huntingdon's single-elimination tournament is scheduled for Aug. 28 in Oak Hollow Park. It coincides with North Huntingdon's Summer Celebration, which begins that day and runs through Aug. 30.

The plan is to organize 16 coed teams of 10 to 12 players that will compete in four-inning games.

Money would be raised from a $250 per-team entrance fee and a 50-50 raffle held the day of the tournament.

The medical service is also seeking sponsorships that range from $100 to $500.

“We've already got a few verbal commitments from the local fire companies,” Spielvogle said. “We're hoping some community groups and businesses will support us by joining in by fielding teams or serving as sponsors.”

The fundraising goal is $3,500, Spielvogle said.

Dan Miller, the township director of parks and recreation, said combining the tournament with the Summer Celebration seemed like a natural fit.

“It's a big weekend for us, so the tournament will serve as a great kick-off to the activities we have planned,” Miller said.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2360, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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