JAMESTOWN – A non-profit raising awareness about testicular cancer is seeing overwhelming community support for their fundraising efforts, but they’re having a hard time achieving their true goal of breaking down stigmas about the disease.
The founder of the One Ball Foundation, Ben Lindquist, says normally he’d be meeting with young people in the community to educate them about the illness. However, gathering restrictions have dampened that effort.
For example, Lindquist says he once had a strong conversation with a group of area Boy Scouts that wouldn’t have had the same impact if it was not in person.
“I took a duffel bag full of balls, a football, a basketball, a baseball, a softball, a racquetball, a golf ball, you name it,” Lindquist said. “I had a whole bag full, and I’d pull one out and I’d ask the group: anyone know what this is? Kid says, ‘Ah! It’s a football’, so I throw it to him, and I went through my whole bad, and I said, `Does anybody sense a theme here? We are going to talk about balls, we are going to talk about testicular cancer,'” said Lindquist.
“All of a sudden that good-hearted laughing kind of turned into a nervous laugh, and I had to bring them back, to say listen, it is okay, this is why I brought this whole bag of balls so that you’d feel comfortable with the subject area that we are going to talk about,” added Lindquist. “That is the type of thing that we want to be able to do as an organization, there is ways that we can break the ice and deliver the message.”
Lindquist says for him, the biggest obstacle of the pandemic is the inability to connect face-to-face.
“The realness of it, is just not the same. The personal touch, it is hard to throw a ball through my webcam right now,” he said. “I’m a handshake kind of guy, a face-to-face, I like to joke and laugh and have a good time.”
Before being diagnosed himself, Lindquist didn’t know anyone with testicular cancer other than professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong. He says that’s why he made it his mission to break down the stigmas associated with the disease.
His group started in 2013 when they held the first One Ball Whiffle Ball Tournament for testicular cancer, an event that has since grown into an annual occurrence.
He says because of pandemic health concerns and government restrictions the foundation was unable to hold the event.
“We made a decision probably around August 1 that we said Labor Day weekend is just not going to work, we have not been given full clearance to open things up at this point in time. We can’t have 150 people playing whiffle ball and another 200 people there potentially for a chicken dinner,” explained Lindquist.
Instead, the One Ball Foundation is holding only one fundraiser this year, their “Stack Your Balls” Golf Scramble.
At first, Lindquist and his group thought they would have trouble raising funds through the event, but the community proved them wrong.
“For every one business and one person that has said they are unable to do something this year, there have been three or four that have said, ‘We’re still here, we still support you,’” said Lindquist. “The people that give the most are sometimes the people that have the least, but they have the most heart, they have the most passion, we got to where we are because of that caring community and environment that we are in.”
Lindquist says those looking to partake in the golf scramble on Saturday still have an opportunity to buy in to a raffle auctioning off a signed Josh Allen football helmet. For more, visit Facebook.com/1ball4tc.
This report is part of a series sponsored by JRSC Digital highlighting how businesses, community groups and individuals are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.