The fifth annual Jack Frost Festival fundraiser has previously focused on carnival games for younger children, but this year it’s taking a different approach. A much wider selection of “Olympic games” for community members of all ages are at the center of this year’s festival — particularly, a dodgeball tournament.
This year the event, first held in 2014 as a benefit for Jack Dorr, a Helman Elementary School student who died later that year, will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, in the Ashland Middle School gym at 201 S. Mountain Ave. Following festivals have raised funds for other children.
Trish Dorr, Helman fifth grade teacher and Jack’s mother, said she and a handful of friends who taught and loved Jack, could get more involved with the planning and organization this year.
“It’s a great way to keep his playful spirit alive,” Dorr said. “This idea actually came about because of a dream one of his PE teachers had … she texted me last year telling me that she dreamt about Jack, and he was playing dodgeball! I thought, ‘That’s perfect! Of course, that’s a 10-year old boy’s dream of heaven … playing dodgeball!’ And he was probably crushing it in that dream.”
Teams of mixed ages and genders are especially encouraged, and co-ed is suggested for high school and adult teams. Registration is due by Saturday, Feb. 10, by emailing Dorr at Trish.Dorr@ashland.k12.or.us. Youth games will be tentatively scheduled from 1-3, then high school and adult games from 3-5. Stragglers can also sign up before the event or the day of and will be placed with a team, made up of six people. Teams will be placed in a bracket and play the best two out of three games, elimination style.
Dorr stressed that the point of the event is to bring the community together, and encourages all ages to play. Also, the balls are soft. The tournament winners will receive medals. Prizes can also be won at the other "Olympic" games.
These games are still in the planning stage, but likely will include milk bottle bowling, four-square, bucket ball, and throwbacks to popular elementary P.E. activities such as modified bocce ball, relay races and gym scooters.
There will also be a few rounds of "Sproutball," described as an “everybody plays” dodgeball game Dorr used to play with her second-grade students and parents.
“Jack loved playing Sproutball on these nights, and the very first group I did it with are now the freshman class at AHS,” Dorr said.
The AHS leadership class, or student body government, has always helped plan and organize the event. According to Ellie Carter, co-president of the leadership class, all proceeds will be split between the Doernbecher’s Brain Tumor Research Team and the Dorr Family Library at Helman Elementary.
Pediatric cancer receives roughly 4 percent of the funding from the American Cancer Society research budget, Dorr said. The way children’s bodies react to cancer and chemotherapy is vastly different from that of adults.
“As a community, it’s so important for us to teach our students about compassion, and about being able to help others,” Dorr said. “There are more kids in our little community than you think who have had brain tumors, and received care at Doernbecher. The Doernbecher team is working hard to become one of the top research teams in the nation, and it feels really good to support them.”
Doernbecher has even put together a dodgeball team of doctors and nurses for the event.
The AHS leadership class consists of 28 students all involved in the planning of the event. Community outreach is a focus of one of the event committees and this year has seen more donations that ever before, Carter said.
“I think it’s really special in that the event has always been part memorial, part awareness-raising, and part activism,” Carter said. “It’s a reminder of who Jack was and how many people had connections to him in the community, and a reminder that the community needs to put in the support for kids like Jack in the valley and the state.”
The all-inclusive entrance fee is $5 for students and $8 for adults. Participants are entered into raffles for many different prizes.
“I think for anyone who has lost a child, we wonder how their legacy will be carried on,” Dorr said. “Having this event helps me feel like Jack is remembered, and those of us who think of him a lot have something to do that keeps his spirit alive while we work toward the event.”
—Contact Ashland freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at Caitlin.email@example.com.