Summertime in the 19th Ward is synonymous with 16-inch softball, and two tournaments that draw hundreds of supporters to raise money for local charities are rapidly approaching.

The Papa Hops 16-inch Softball Tournament will be Friday, July 12, and the Keepin’ on for KFK 16-inch Softball Tournament will be Saturday, July 20.

The Papa Hops tournament supports the Tom Hopkins Foundation, named in honor of a Morgan Park resident who succumbed to melanoma in 2014. Hopkins was heavily involved in youth athletics, and his children have spearheaded a non-profit organization that has donated thousands of dollars to local elementary schools’ athletic programs. The foundation also helped purchase a scoreboard for Kennedy Park.

The softball tournament, which consists of 32 teams, takes place at Beverly, Kennedy and Mt. Greenwood parks, with the final three rounds played at Kennedy Park. The championship game is contested under the lights in front of thousands of spectators.

The KFK tournament, also played at Kennedy Park, raises funds for the Kevin F. Kennelly Jr. Memorial Scholarship fund, named after a teen from Beverly who died in 2011. The tournament features men’s and women’s brackets, with over 30 teams competing and fans spread throughout the park.

Part of the appeal of both tournaments is their competitive level, but participants should—and usually do—keep sportsmanship at the forefront.

Recently, the Tom Hopkins Foundation donated $2,000 each to 10 local Catholic schools. The Kennelly scholarship fund hosted its annual White Sox game outing, with over 400 people attending, and it also hosts a golf outing in the fall.

The Kennelly scholarship is awarded to eighth-graders every year, and those winners often volunteer at the softball tournament, providing a fine example of paying it forward. The fund is now managed by Kennelly’s friends, who are in their early 20s, showcasing yet again that young adults in this neighborhood are taking lead roles in volunteering for charitable causes.

Softball tournaments are held all summer for good causes, including Ginger Rugai’s 25th annual Y-Me tournament, an all-women’s event set for Saturday, Aug. 24, at Mt. Greenwood Park. Proceeds benefit the fight against breast cancer.

Sports provide a perfect way to do something fun for a good cause. There are plenty of opportunities to do that this summer, so get involved.

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