TAHOE CITY, Calif. - Local volunteer group The Gang held its second annual Fall Classic softball tournament in Tahoe City. Friends from four summer softball teams, many of them also members of The Gang, faced off in the name of fun and community spirit. With each player donating $10, $650 was raised and split between the BEAR League and a scholarship fund for youth sports through TCPUD Parks & Recreation. With announcers providing very colorful commentary, food on the grill, and more than 60 players grateful to extend the softball season for one more night, the evening was a success in every way. Millar Time, the defending summer D League champions, ran away with the trophy for the second time.Several BEAR League volunteers were in attendance to share the League's message of protecting local black bears and to receive the $300 donation from the players. "We had a wonderful time with The Gang and are so grateful for this donation and obvious support of our mission to help people and bears co-exist peacefully together in the Tahoe Basin. These folks renew our faith in mankind, and we admit, we needed that," said Ann Bryant, the BEAR League's executive director. Several attendees noted this summer's unsolved shooting death of "Sunny" the bear gave them added enthusiasm to support the Bear League's efforts. "We chose the BEAR League as a recipient because we want their volunteers to know they're appreciated, especially after the tough summer they've endured," said Aaron Gaines, founder of The Gang.The remainder of the players' donations, $350, will fund two youth after-school sports scholarships through TCPUD Parks & Recreation. More than 250 youth from the West Shore of Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City participate in youth sports with Parks and Rec annually, and about 10 percent of them apply for scholarships, according to Shaun Chilkotowsky, recreation coordinator for Tahoe City. Programming includes swimming, sailing, softball, lacrosse, basketball and more.The scholarship donation found supporters elsewhere in the community, too, as Mr. Gaines asked several local business to match one scholarship each at a rate of $175. The resulting support was overwhelming, as Pete N Peter's, Tahoe Dave's, the Kiwanis Club of North Tahoe, Jake's, River Grill, Tahoe Tree Co., Tahoe City Electric, and North Lake Auto Parts all agreed. Jauquin's Personal Chefs and the softball team Longballz also made significant contributions. Gaines commented, "They've got to sell a lot of beers, or plants, or ski rentals, to make $175 in profits, so it speaks to the community spirit of these family businesses that they were willing to contribute like this. It makes a statement about the people of Tahoe City and what kind of town we are."Said Chilkotowsky, "With the fundraising efforts of The Gang and its partners, at least 10 of those kids will be supported and will be seen on the ball field this year!"With the Fall Classic now a happy memory, The Gang is looking forward to its next event, riding bikes and cleaning up the Truckee River bike path and riverbank between Tahoe City and the River Ranch with Pedal There, on Oct. 13.
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