A Rancho Santa Fe high school student put on his own Strikeout Cancer Tournament at Richardson Field on Jan. 26-27. Canyon Crest Academy sophomore Ozzie Pearlman organized the charity baseball tournament and raised $5,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The tournament brought together players from six 12 and under travel baseball teams, including the Rancho Santa Fe Saints, North County Mavericks Blue and Green, CBA, BPA and HBA Baseball.
"It went really well," Ozzie said. "The players seemed to have a lot of fun, that was the most important part."
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, pancreatic cancer takes 91 percent of its victims within five years and kills more people than breast cancer in the United States. The disease is the third leading cause of cancer-related death and it is projected to become the second around 2020.
The organization works toward ensuring pancreatic cancer patients have better outcomes with a greater investment commitment in research.
For Ozzie, the cause was close to his heart as five years ago he lost his grandmother, Janis "Gammy" Pearlman, to the disease.
"She used to sing to me when I was little and that's something I will always remember about her," Ozzie said. He said hosting a tournament that gives back to the cause of pancreatic cancer is an opportunity "to honor her memory in the best way I can."
Ozzie was a Rancho Santa Fe Little League all star who has gone on to play travel ball with the San Diego Crush and Del Mar Powerhouse – last spring he played junior varsity for Canyon Crest Academy. For the last three years he has also been a volunteer for Miracle League, which provides children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball.
"I love it there," said Ozzie, who moved to San Diego with his family from New York when he was in the seventh grade.
After he got the idea for a charity tournament, Ozzie reached out to the head coach of his little brother's Rancho Santa Fe Saints team, who connected him with other teams in the San Diego area who were willing to play. He put an umpire crew together, got the field space and set up the game schedule.
Ozzie said the home stretch was the most challenging part of organizing the tournament—getting all of the equipment to the field and putting the finishing touches on everything so it was all ready to go come tournament time.
With the success of the inaugural Strikeout Cancer tournament, Ozzie is looking forward to presenting a check to the Pancreatic Cancer Network and is already making plans for next year.
"Next year I want to expand to a bigger venue and get more teams and age groups involved," Ozzie said.
For more information on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, visit www.pancan.org.