On Labor Day weekend in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia for the past 32 years, the Interstate Softball Tournament "Rally in the Valley" plays ball and raises funds and awareness for missions in Paraguay. Their slogan is so fitting, "Softball For A Reason." This year 36 teams came together to have fun, share Christ and support God's work in South America. A huge GRACIAS to all the teams, the speakers and worship leaders, and our lifelong friends, the Briscoes, for organizing this life-changing event each year! So much of what happens here is because of your love and support!
This article about the tournament was written by a participant and printed in the Bluegrass State newspaper:
I want to take this opportunity to discuss the tournament's reason and let everyone know about a Labor Day event that can only be described as something special.
My first experience at the Interstate Softball Tournament was about seven years ago. I had heard the stories about the tournament and was told that it was unlike any other weekend softball tournament, but that failed to register until I witnessed the event first-hand. Now, the Rally in the Valley is something I start looking forward to the Monday after the tournament ends.
I talked to tournament director Chad Briscoe Saturday night about the event and how it is being used to literally bring hope to people that have little-to-nothing else. Briscoe, who serves as the Director of Athletics at Grace College (IN), was more-than-happy to share with me the story of the Interstate Softball Tournament.
"Mom and Dad started the tournament in 1979 and we are now in our thirty-second year," stated Briscoe.
He continued, "We basically raise money for mission work in Paraguay. About the time the tournament started, my mother's roommate in college and her husband were starting a Christian school in Paraguay. The decision was made to put the money raised towards that cause."
Twila Briscoe, Chad's mother, was a roommate at Anderson University with Tabitha Meier Kurrle. The Kurrles, Tabitha and Martin, were instrumental in building the Alfa-Omega School in Raul Pena, Paraguay. In addition to raising funds for the school, the event has led to several other ground-breaking projects in Paraguay.
"We now support ten different pastors in ten churches in Paraguay. We have also built the first ever Christian radio station in the country and it can be heard through Paraguay and parts of Argentina," Briscoe added.
I asked Briscoe to estimate how much money has been raised for Paraguay during the Interstate Softball softball tournament and he happily stated, "we have raised approximately a quarter-of-a-million dollars."
The event has grown from ten teams in 1980 to an average of 24-65 teams annually since 1984.
On Saturday night during the weekend, there is a church service that is attended by all players, coaches and others. It is often termed the "Ball Players Worship Service." The service is always powerful and highlighted by a tremendous speaker. Some speakers that have attended the service in the past include Ed Lenzer, Steve Burch, Doug Talley, Mitchell Burch, Dean Schield, Jeff Frymire, Rolland Daniels, Gary Ausbun, Ron Patty, Tom Planck, Denny Huebner, Bill Ellis, Sid Bream, Ted Power and Frank Tanana. The 1999 service had a record attendance of 3,500.
Although the tournament is often termed a Church of God tournament, Briscoe said it is important to add that any church is invited to participate. Also, anyone that feels compelled to support the tournament can simply send a check or monetary donation to the address listed below. Another way to contribute is to find a local church that is participating in the event and help support that church in their efforts to raise money.
I can honestly say that words cannot describe the Interstate Softball Tournament accurately enough. It is an annual experience that I cherish and one that accurately matches the slogan: "softball for a reason."
For more information or to make a donation:
Chad Briscoe (Tournament Director)
PO Box 7851
Roanoke, VA 24019