If you pulled in for gas or service at Wilson’s C and S, formerly Hodges’ Service Station, this past week you might have glanced in the window to see the owner Sara Wilson on the phone, looking a little frazzled. Jason Wilson, her husband, usually steps outside to pump gas at the full-service station, shaking his head with obvious pride, saying, “She is working on that softball tournament, it’s something every minute.”
Sara’s main focus over the past three weeks has been the first “Shop with a Cop” softball tournament – held as a fundraiser for the Tompkinsville Police Department’s Christmas program.
The program, which has been held annually in Tompkinsville for the past ten years, allows local children who may not otherwise be able to, to shop for Christmas presents for themselves and family members.
Local police officers, along with other volunteers from other law enforcement agencies and community organizations, as well as employees at Wal-Mart, help the kids pick out their items.
While planning the tournament kept Sara busy, those that know Sara know she would not have it any other way. When she had a moment to speak about the tournament held this weekend, she didn’t take any credit as she bragged on her husband; her friend, Christy Vibbert; several sponsors around town, the police officers who helped out (several who even formed a team); and all the parents and kids from local softball travel teams, which made this tournament weekend possible.
Sara learned about the program when working with Tompkinsville Police Department officers during her time working as a dispatcher before opening the service station named for her children, Connor and Sommor.
Wilson’s love for both softball and the work of the officers led her to an idea for a softball tournament to benefit the holiday program.
Tompkinsville Police Captain Kerry Denton has organized the event the past few years and noted that the officers were “blown away at how much logistical effort that Sara had put into the event, she literally thought of everything. Everything ran so smooth and when I complimented her on it, her simple answer was that it was due to the volunteers and businesses that supported the event.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we have the support of these volunteers and businesses on our team — without them, our Program would not be able to accommodate as many children as we are able to each year,” Denton added.
Although the original goal for the tournament was to raise $500 to sponsor five more middle or high school kids, but the event raised $1,326.61 almost tripling the goal!
“This means 13 children will be able to have a Christmas this year and its all because of the hard work and dedication of Sara and all her sponsors and donors,” Denton continued.
This upcoming year is expected to be even bigger as the program grows each year. Being able to address the growing financial need (as each student is allotted $60-75 to spend on Christmas gifts for themselves or others), the “Monroe County Invitational Softball Tournament” was born.
While many of the participants may have wished for more “Christmas-like” weather, Saturday’s heat didn’t slow anyone down. Not one complaint was heard as the “T-ville City Police” co-ed team, consisting of officers, dispatch, friends and family members, and several other 12u, 14 u and adult teams took the field.
Throughout the day, several games were played on three separate fields at City Park and the high school, with organizers noting a great turn out of teams and spectators for the inaugural event.
“I was amazed at the support I received across the whole county for the idea,” Sara noted. “Several sponsors including Monroe County Press, Dovies, Sonic, AAA Hail Repair, Mayoral Candidate Danny Vinson, Cash Express, Hog Wild BBQ and Chill Zone, stepped up to the plate to help out. Monroe County’s softball coach Treg Turner also offered the use of the school field and worked on the fields at city park to have them ready in time for the tournament.
“Without these businesses, my “girls” (which she called her fellow softball moms), the kids, the officers, Jason, they would have all been ready to kill me,” she laughs and trails off, “I am just overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and willingness to help.”
Wilson continues, not wanting to take credit for herself, but speaking of her friend, Christy, and husband, Jason, “Without her help the tournament wouldn’t have been possible. She stayed by my side from the time I thought of the crazy idea until we cleaned up the parks after the tourney and without Jason, the past several weeks, I would’ve lost my mind completely. He supported me and had my back, while I was terrified of everything falling apart … but everything fell perfectly into place.”
And that it did. The event raised money and awareness for a wonderful cause, she said, and Wilson hopes this is just the beginning. She promised that next year, the Second Annual Monroe County Invitational Softball Tournament to benefit the “Shop with a Cop,” will be bigger and better — “We worked out all the breakdowns and now we know what we are doing”.
“We, at the Tompkinsville Police Department, want to extend our gratitude to Sara for organizing the event and a huge thank you to everyone that donated in any way or participated in any way to support a Program that’s so near and dear to our hearts,” Denton added.