The weather was chilly with overcast skies, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the 50 senior men who played in the Bill Bromley Memorial Cardiac Kids Softball Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Liberty Buick Field in Sun City West. Players ribbed each other mercilessly and hot-dogged it on the field, but there was a higher purpose.
The players share a history of heart problems and this was their 9th annual tournament to raise funds for cardiac research. This year’s event raised nearly $2,000 for cardiac stem-cell research being conducted by Mohamed Gaballa, PhD, at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. Dr. Gaballa was on hand to report on his research, thank the crowd for their support and to throw out the first pitch. Despite the players’ health issues, the atmosphere was markedly light-hearted.
As each player came to the plate, the announcer intoned their name and listed their heart ailments. Leading the pack was 66-year-old Rick Fish with 10 stents, eight rotor-blade procedures and two strokes. “When I first got to Sun City West I could hardly walk,” the transplanted San Diegan said. “I started playing softball and now I’m a new person, so I get to play, have fun and do good.” The funds were donated through the Sun Health Foundation, which provides financial support to BSHRI.
The tournament is named for the late Bill Bromley, a softball-crazed senior who dreamed of a charity tournament made up entirely of players who, like him, had suffered and recovered from a “cardiac event.” Bromley passed away in 2008 but his “memory and energy live on,” Tournament Director Ken Skinner said. Rick Fish waxed fondly about Bromley. “Bill was one of the first people I met when I moved here and he’s the one that got me started on softball.”