DM-SB Rotary Club’s 21st Annual Turf Bocce Ball Tournament scores another fundraising win

Nearly 250 people came out for some sun-soaked — and magnanimous — fun at the Del Mar-Solana Beach Rotary Club’s 21st Annual Turf Bocce Ball Tournament on Oct. 8.

Having moved to the Surf Cup Sports Park after two decades at the Del Mar Horse Park, this year’s tournament raised more than $40,000, bringing the 21-year total to nearly $600,000 donated to a wide array of charities and community groups.

This year’s event had two lead beneficiaries: Reality Changers and Just in Time for Foster Youth, both of which will receive 20 percent of the funds raised. In the 15 years since its founding, Reality Changers has helped 1,000 disadvantaged teens get into college. Just in Time helps foster youth transition out of the foster care system after they turn 18. The county-wide program serves about 700 people each year.

The morning got off to its now-traditional start with a showdown between the elected leaders of Solana Beach and Del Mar. Thanks to some pinpoint play, Solana Beach Mayor Mike Nichols and Councilman David Zito retained the trophy with a 10-4 win over Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott and Councilwoman Sherryl Parks.

More than mere bragging rights, the top three teams got to donate their “winnings” to the charity of their choice.

Jeff Neufeld and Bill Seifen — with Del Mar Car Care as their sponsor — took home the tournament title, donating their $300 prize to Just in Time. The runners-up were Seth Teater and Matt Van Meeteren, sponsored by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. They chose City of Hope Cancer Research to receive their $200 prize. Third place went to Mike Price and Jon Dyer, sponsored by SeaWorld. They gave their $100 prize to Reality Changers.

While the annual funds are a much-appreciated boon, said Just in Time’s executive director Don Wells, six years of participation have also given rise to a larger community of support that helps the nonprofit combat the stigmas and obstacles surrounding foster care. Bocce players who discovered Just in Time at the tournament have gone on to join their board, Wells said, and one participant was so moved that they helped Just in Time land a $25,000 grant.

“As time has gone by, bocce has become the official sport of Just in Time,” Wells said. “It’s been such a great partnership. This is a great opportunity to get more awareness out about the challenges that are faced by this population and to have people meet some of the young people who have been in foster care.”

The rest of this year’s funds will be distributed among a slew of charities and community organizations that the Del Mar-Solana Beach chapter supports, many of which focus on youth poverty, veterans’ issues and homelessness. Locally, that list includes the Community Resource Center, Urban Street Angels, Voices for Children and Casa de Amistad. The club also benefits numerous international organizations.

Learn more about the club at dmsbrotary.com.

Copyright © 2018, Del Mar Times