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Give blood, play softball

by Chuck Smock

There’s a softball tournament coming to the Carson Valley with a unique entry fee.

Organizers of the Tiffany Morris Leukemia Awareness Softball Tournament don’t want your money, they want your blood.

The men’s 12-team, double-elimination tournament is scheduled for Aug. 21 at Lampe Park.

All players on the rosters of the 12 teams will be asked to do one of four things: donate blood; take a blood test to be put on the national bone marrow donor registry; sign up to donate platelets, the clotting agent in blood which is very important for leukemia patients; or donate $10 to a fund established to help Morris find a bone marrow donor match.

Tiffany Morris, 29, is a Carson Valley resident and the mother of three young children. She was diagnosed with leukemia on March 16. She spent the next 212 months in the hospital, where she underwent three rounds of chemotherapy that sent the disease into remission.

Morris is currently undergoing the first of two rounds of consolidation chemotherapy, which she called “maintenance.” Each of the rounds lasts one week, but it takes her three weeks to recover from the nausea and the fatigue, Morris said.

She is still in remission, but said her doctors think she’ll need a bone marrow transplant to help correct a problem with her chromosomes that could lead to a relapse if she doesn’t get the transplant.

And that’s where the tournament comes in.

Fred Contreras, Bill Taylor and Tim Miller – all friends of Morris from Calvary Chapel of Carson Valley – decided the tournament would be a fun way for people to learn about the importance of donating blood.

“The whole reason we decided to do this in the first place was we just wanted to do something,” Contreras said. “Bill put together a tournament a few years ago to raise money for a family who lost everything they owned in a house fire.

“We felt compelled to try to do something. We felt led to do this. We feel like it’s something God put on our hearts to do. I just really think Tiffany is a neat lady and we wanted to do whatever we could to help.”

In cooperation with the United Blood Services of Northern Nevada, a BloodMobile will be at Lampe Park the day of the tournament from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The BloodMobile won’t be able to accommodate all players that day, but will have information about testing to become a potential bone marrow donor as well as a way for players and members of the public to be contacted at a later date to donate blood or platelets.

Morris said her doctors are still looking for a bone marrow match, but added that they found several potential matches in a preliminary search of the national bone marrow donor registry.

“We have a lot of great friends,” Morris said. “They’ve been very supportive.

We’ve had some fund-raisers that have helped us out financially, but I think this (tournament) is great because it is going to help raise awareness about leukemia and the importance of donating blood.

“Obviously,” she added with a laugh, “I think that’s real important.”

Tiffany, and her husband, Scott, have three children, Brittany, 5, Nickolas, 4, and Kaleb, 18 months.

“Tiffany is a friend,” Contreras said. “When something happens to a friend, you want to do something to help.”

To enter your team in the tournament, contact Fred Contreras at 885-9170. You can fax your entry or roster sheet to 883-4952, or mail it to 341 Chateau Drive, Carson City, Nev., 89701. The event will be limited to the first 12 teams that register.