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updated: 12/20/2016 4:18 PM

Sixth Annual Dodgin' 4 Lou Gehrig's Disease Dodgeball Tournament Fundraiser to Celebrate Life of Denise DiMarzo

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  • Delaney Gibbons and Taylor Morrissey pictured at the 2016 tournament with Denise DiMarzo and Chris Benyo.

    Delaney Gibbons and Taylor Morrissey pictured at the 2016 tournament with Denise DiMarzo and Chris Benyo.

 
April Tunnicliff

NAPERVILLE, IL, December, 2016 -- In 2011 seventh graders Delaney Gibbons and Taylor Morrissey put on the first Dodgin' 4 Lou Gehrig's Dodgeball Tournament to raise money for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) research and support. Inspired by their Meadow Glens Elementary PE teacher's wife, Denise DiMarzo, they thought that an annual dodgeball tournament would be a great way to get the community involved to make a difference for Denise, who had been recently diagnosed with ALS.

That annual event has since raised almost $100,000 and has helped bring incredible ALS awareness to the Naperville community.

The sixth annual event will be held on Friday, February 24, 2017 at Naperville North High School. This year holds special significance as it marks the last year that Delaney and Taylor will be spearheading the event. Both girls are now seniors in high school and will be moving onto college. This year will also be significant as it will be the first that Denise will not be at the event as she lost her courageous battle with ALS this past July.

The tournament was a special occasion to Denise and her husband Chris Benyo. When asked about what the event has meant to Chris he says, "When Delaney and Taylor approached me over 5 years ago I had no idea what a blessing it would turn out to be. Now here we are in the sixth year of the event. Together, with their families, these girls have made such a huge impact on the Naperville Community and the thousands of people living with ALS. These girls will go so far in life and I am very proud of them. This year will be very difficult as Denise always looked forward to the event. It will be strange walking in to Naperville North and not having her beside me. She loved this event so much. Balls would bang off her chair and she would just smile that infectious smile the whole time. I know that on event day Denise will be with me just as she was in the last two marathons that I completed while pushing her empty chair. I have no doubt that this year's tournament will be epic. I love those girls and their families for all they have done for Denise and me."

All proceeds will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and the goal is a record-breaking $35,000.

There are three team divisions in the tournament, Junior High, High School and Adult. The registration fee is $225 per team until December 31, 2016 and will increase to $250 per team on January 1, 2017. Each team registration fee includes 6-10 players (including a team captain). Additional players may be added to a team for a fee of $25. A team may have a maximum of 14 total members. There is a 50 team limit for the tournament.

Registration is now open until January 31, 2017 or until the team limit is reached. To register a team or learn about sponsorship opportunities please visit www.dodgin4lougehrigs.com.

About MDA

MDA is leading the fight to free individuals -- and the families who love them -- from the harm of muscular dystrophy, ALS and related muscle-debilitating diseases that take away physical strength, independence and life. We use our collective strength to help kids and adults live longer and grow stronger by finding research breakthroughs across diseases; caring for individuals from day one; and empowering families with services and support in hometowns across America.

Learn how you can fund cures, find care and champion the cause at mda.org.