The Redwood Falls National Guard Armory was a busy place April 6, as people of all ages from the community stopped by to help Big Buddies of Redwood County raise funds during its annual Toss-a-Thon.

“The Toss-a-Thon Friday went very well for us,” said Mark Trefry, Big Buddies of Redwood County coordinator.

According to Trefry, there were 27 teams that participated in the fundraising event, with 132 individuals participating.

In the end, Trefry said the event came very close to raising its $10,000 goal for Big Buddies, adding his appreciation to everyone who came and participated in the Toss-a-Thon. 

Trefry said there were 43 participating sponsors who helped make the event possible, adding his appreciation to all of those who donated to help make the event such a success again this year.

In addition to the sponsors, Trefry expressed words of thanks to the Special Olympics volunteers who came and helped serve the pizza and also played in the tournament.

“The Special Olympics provided a great amount of help,” said Trefry.

Speaking of the food, Trefry said the Pizza Ranch of Redwood Falls helped make it possible for the event to be enjoyed, as a donation was offered allowing everyone to enjoy free pizza.

Trefry also acknowledged the National Guard Armory and Bob Bratsch for its willingness to host the event.

Some of the strongest support for the event came from the Redwood Valley athletics program, said Trefry, as athletes and coaches from the baseball, golf and tennis teams all participated. He said 11 of the teams and more than 60 of the participants were from the Cardinal sports program.

“The sports teams raised close to $2,000 for our cause,” said Trefry.

During three different time slots, that Friday afternoon and evening, 10 bean bag toss boards were set up, and each participating player tossed 10 frames with the top scorers recognized at each of the time slots.

The funds raised during the annual event are used to support the programs offered through Big Buddies, which is a program offered in Redwood County through United Community Action Partnership.

According to Trefry, youth are able to participate in the summer day camp program that started in June.

“We meet one or two times each week to do special events,” said Trefry, adding that could mean a visit to the pool or taking a trip to visit attractions in surrounding communities.

That program, said Trefry, is a great way for kids to stay busy during the summer months, adding there are events where Big Buddies will also collaborate with the Redwood County 4-H program and Redwood Area Community Education.

“Summer is a mobile time for families,” said Trefry. “At the end of the school year, families will move, and that is when we see a lot of new faces in our community.”

Trefry said Big Buddies is a great way of those who are new to the community to make personal connections. The funds also help make it possible for those in the program to attend local sporting events during the school year.

Trefry said having those local athletes also helping to raise the funds each year through the Toss-a-Thon helps to create a great connection for the student athletes and those who are part of Big Buddies.

Trefry has information about the annual free summer camp being offered through the Salvation Army, including how students can sign up for that event.

To learn more about Big Buddies of Redwood County, contact Trefry at (507) 530-1202 or send him an e-mail at mark.trefry@unitedcapmn.org.