Home run hitters honor killed coaches memory with fundraiser

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- Hundreds of kids strapped on their cleats and took a few practice swings before trying to hit some long balls Sunday in Alachua. Here's how a home run derby was used for more than just the satisfaction of watching a ball go over the fence.

3 different leagues, Santa Fe Babe Ruth Baseball, Gainesville Youth and Elite Baseball hosted the derby to honor the memory of a man whose love of baseball influenced many players and coaches.
Adam Delker is the president of Santa Fe Babe Ruth Baseball who explained why this derby was organized at all.

"We have over 150 registrants for a home run derby today and all proceeds are benefitting the Waughon family. Patrick Waughon was one of the coaches here for Santa Fe Babe Ruth who was tragically killed in a car accident a few weeks ago." said Delker.

Friends of the family spoke about the type of man Patrick Waughon really was. Tabitha Priester is a friend of the Waughon's and their kids play baseball together.

"We've known the family and have been playing baseball with the family for about 5 years. Our kids played all-stars for their first season of tee ball together and it's so good to see that during this we can all come together and support them." said Priester.

Jenni Bennet has two sons who play baseball and knew Patrick personally.

"Can't think of a better way to honor him, actually anytime you'd see Pat you saw him with a smile on is face a baseball cap, usually a Cubs hat. He was a huge baseball fan and so encouraging to all of the kids that played." said Bennet.

Pat's son still plays baseball and hit a few home runs as teammates cheered him on.

Cohen Bennett used to be on the team with Preston Waughon.

"His dad was one of my coaches for a long time and when I heard I was really upset because I was on a different team for a little while but I knew him really well and he was one of the nicest guys I ever met." said Waughon.

Even though the derby was organized around a tragic loss the atmosphere was joyful and of course filled with determination to hit the ball just a little further than anyone else.

Jenni Bennet explains, "I know how bad they want to hit the home runs so as a mom you just have to root them on and you want them to do the best that they can. It's so much fun because you can feel their excitement and you know how badly they want it."

The money from the derby which was the first of its kind goes to the Waughon family, 7 children and their mom.