High School Softball Teams Play Tournament To ‘Strike Out Cancer’

You can’t see her, but in the middle of the scrum of softbal plaers from Franklin and Florence Memorial high schools is Ava Danielsen, who they are hugging after singing “Happy Birthday” to her.

Softball teams from Franklin, Manville and Florence Township high schools gave a local teenager a tremendous birthday present on April 8.

Called the “Strike Out Cancer” tournament, the girls joined at the FHS playing fields to raise money for the Lymphoma Research Foundation to support one of their own.

The giftee was Ava Danielsen, the now-17-year-old daughter of state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen and Board of Education member Christine Danielsen, who is also a member of the FHS softball team.

Ava, who is battling non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is not yet able to play. But she was there April 8, cheering on her teammates in their double-header against Florence and Manville.

Danielsen after she was mass-hugged.

The Warriors were already scheduled to play Manville. But when the idea was developed to hold a tournament fundraiser for the foundation, in honor of Ava, the Florence coach wanted in.

Which makes sense, when you consider that the Florence coach and Amanda Racioppi, the Warriors’ coach, are sisters.

Racioppi said Danielsen’s teammates wanted to do something for her, to show that “they had her back.”

“The girls just wanted to do something and pull together as a team for Eva, just to show her that we’re a family, the whole program,” she said.

“It’s bigger than I anticipated, so it’s awesome,” she said.

Money was raised through the sale of green “Strike Out Cancer” shirts before the game, and with concessions during the game.

“I was almost sold out of t-shirts before the event started,” Racioppi said. “I have people pre-ordering shirts, so we may do a second order.”

She sad that as of April 7, about $200 had been raised.

“Everyone was super supportive,” she said. “They were all for it, and really excited that maybe we can keep this a yearly thing.”

After the Florence game, in which the Warriors were shut out 15-0, the girls from both teams gathered in the middle of the diamond to sing “Happy Birthday” to Danielsen.

“I think it’s amazing,” Danielsen said. “Everything we’ve done for this game, and it’s going to a really good cause. It’s even better because it’s also my birthday.”

“It makes me happy to know that everyone can come together and just make this day everything that it can be,” she said.

After the game, the girls posed for a group picture.

2017 Strike Out Cancer Softball Game

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