Former Detroit Red Wing Joe Kocur, along with other local celebrities and Red Wing alumni, is hosting the Third Annual Joe Kocur and Celebrity Friends Softball Tournament on Saturday at Duck Lake Pines in Highland.
This year's event is in honor of , a Hartland High School student who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.
The event will feature Kocur and his friends playing against policemen and firefighters from Milford, and Highland. The gates open at 10:30 a.m.
Over the past three years, Kocur said, the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities. "We expect to exceed $50,000 this year," he said.
"This is our third season hosting this event," he said. "With all the help of the southeast Michigan businesses and exciting event entertainment, we anticipate doubling event attendance in 2011. Our goal on this day is to bring a big-time event to a small town that we are all very proud to call home.
Kocur said the idea for the event came three years ago when sitting in his backyard with local restaurateur and friend Chris Baker.
"We were sitting there trying to figure out ways we could give back to the community," he said. "Using Chris' connections in Milford, and mine with the Red Wings Alumni Association, we decided to do a softball event. Six weeks later we had the first tournament, and it took off from there."
Participants this year include Red Wings Kocur, Dino Ciccarelli, Manny Legace, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Kevin Miller, Eddie Mio, Pat Peake, Wayne Presley and Brian Smolinski with former Atlanta Brave Steve Avery, former Detroit Tiger Dave Rozema and actors Dave Coulier and Jeff Daniels. Ted Lindsay will be there to sign autographs at 2 p.m.
All proceeds from the event will benefit local charities—something Kocur said was very important to him.
"That was our ultimate goal. There are so many worthy charities, we wanted to make sure we gave back locally," Kocur said. "Instead of giving it to cancer research, we found two camps in Michigan that let kids (with cancer) come for a week and be kids again when they are very sick with this tragic illness. We try to keep it strictly Michigan based and give back to the people nearest and dearest to us."
The charities that will benefit this year are:
- Team Kendal Kidz—Special Days Camp and Camp Quality
- Whaley Children's Center—in honor of Dominick Callhoun
- Wings of Mercy East Michigan
- Orchards Children's Services
- Public Service Scholarship—in honor of Shannon Gaber Silverthorn
Aside from the softball tournament, there will be bounce houses, a radar-gun pitching area, face painting, clowns, an ice cream-eating contest, fire trucks, a dunk tank, silent auction and more.
The silent auction items are donated by local businesses.
So why did Kocur pick Highland for this event?
"I've lived in Highland for 21 years," Kocur said. "We wanted to keep it close to home. This is where I've lived for most of my life. I grew up in a very small town in western Canada. This area has a similar feel—you can't go into a store without knowing or recognizing someone. It's nice to keep it real and give back to the people we've grown up with."
Tickets are on sale for $10 through the White Lake, Milford and Highland police and fire departments; Bakers of Milford; the South Lyon Hotel; and the Come Back Inn. Tickets will also be available at the event for $15.
In between games, all participants will be signing autographs.
While bleachers are available, space is limited, so it's recommended you bring your own lawn chairs.