Time to Dodge for a Cause

SHIFT Happens raises money in annual event

Tonight’s tournament, as contestants dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge for a cause, is just the first of many events that will be put on this year by youth who care about their community.

The Annual Dodge For A Cause Dodgeball Tournament, sponsored by SHIFT (Students Helping Impact Future Teens) Happens, will kick off tonight with check-in at 5:30 p.m. and the first throw following around 6 p.m.

As of Thursday at least, organizers were hoping the weather would permit them to go forward.

“If not, we have a backup date of March 29,” said SHIFT Happens Facilitator Tiffany Larson. “But from what I’m understanding, the weather should be holding off until Saturday.”

This is the fifth annual Dodge for a Cause, and interest is high in both the schools and the community, Larson said.

“We have middle school teams signed up, and then we have quite a few family-community combo teams,” she said. “We always have a splurge of people last-minute that show up at that 5:30 p.m. check-in time, so we will see how it is.

“If anybody has not registered, they can put a team of 8-10 players together and show up around 5:30 (tonight), and get ready to dodge for a cause.”

The event will be returning to Jeff Gym, located at the Webster City Middle School. Teams of 8-10 members per team are welcome, and registration is $50 per team.

There will be three tournament brackets again this year; Middle School (5th-8th grades), High School (9th-12th grades), and a Community/Family Combo bracket.

Spectators can also come, attending for a freewill donation. The WC2DC group will also run a concession stand, raising funds for their trip.

Larson is the coordinator for the Bee Inspired program through Building Families. She partnered with other community organizations in 2009 to get the SHIFT Happens group started.

“The youth came up with the name, and they came up with different activities and awareness projects,” Larson said. “They have done stuff on the influence of drugs, alcohol. Over time it grew into more service project type of things.”

This year, the group’s funds will go back to Bee Inspired, the program that keeps the group going.

“With that, those funds raised will go to continue the different efforts through SHIFT Happens, through the service learning projects, and through other different programs and services that I offer within the service area,” Larson said.

The kids often choose the recipient of the funds themselves, Larson said, although this year was a little different.

“Typically there is a discussion every year, kind of based on needs and whatnot,” she said. “This year because it was a whole new fresh group, and because funds were dwindling a little bit when it came to SHIFT Happens and programming and stuff, I asked if would be ok to put it toward the Bee Inspired program.”

Webster City High School freshman Emma Stroner is new to the group this year.

“This year, (the recipient) was already decided. But we are more helping plan it out and stuff,” Stroner said. “Basically finding songs for Dodge for a Cause, designing flyers. The teams, and how everybody is going to sign up, and basically getting the word out.”

Stroner joined up in order to make an impact on her city, she said.

“I decided to join because, shift stands for Students Helping Impact Future Teens, and I think it’s a good thing to be involved in because you’re helping your community and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

This year is also the second year the SHIFT Happens kids have partnered with the Webster City Rotary After Hours club, Larson said. Club members will volunteer their time and talent to help out.

“So some will help to referee, some will help with brackets and the check-in process,” she said. “What I really love is that it’s building that youth-adult relationship, and those connections in the community. The youth are able to understand that Rotary believes in service above self, and they can also witness some of those different kinds of projects they volunteer their time with.”

Bee Inspired provides education programs for youth in Hamilton County and surrounding counties with the goal of empowering all adolescents to make healthy, informed decisions through education and community awareness.

A few years ago, the students chose to raise funds for the HERO Board to restore The Webster Theater, Larson said. In 2015, the group raised funds for the Jorden Leeper Memorial Youth Scholarship Fund.

“A few years ago raised funds to help raise inclusion in the school district,” Larson said. “Funds were used to purchase some different kinds of supplies or activities that can be used in the special education classroom. For instance at the high school they got an adjustable basketball hoop so that students of all abilities could participate.”

There are five active youth in the SHIFT program, Larson said, and they’re looking for new members.

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