Saturday will be a special day for Jodie Mohnkern.
Not only is it her birthday. It also would have been the 38th birthday of her husband, Aaron Mohnkern, who died in January after a six-year battle with a rare form of cancer called pseudomyxoma peritonei.
“It used to be cool,” Mohnkern said of their shared birthday. “Now it’s a little bit difficult.”
“Hopefully it’s a success and just a good time with the community, family and friends,” Mohnkern said.
Because their birthdays fall on a weekend this year, Mohnkern said she hustled to get this first tournament up and running. She hopes the event, which will raise money for cancer research, will turn a sad day back into a joyous one.
“That’s what Aaron would want me to do, and not just sit around and be sad,” she said.
Dubbed WifflepaloozaAM, Mohnkern said the “AM” tagged on the end stands for her husband’s initials. A college baseball player, Aaron also was a loyal Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Mohnkern even jokes that baseball was her husband’s first love.
“He always has been loyal to the Pirates through thick and thin,” she said. “Regardless of who was playing, baseball was on our television.”
The tournament will be played in teams of three to five people. The five-inning games will feature medium-speed pitching and no base running. Experience is not necessary.
It’s what Aaron would have wanted.
Mohnkern said that without breakthroughs in cancer research she wouldn’t have had her husband, who participated in experimental treatments, as long as she did.
“His wish was to continue to support both of these organizations so other people don’t have to go though what we went through,” she said.
Ballplayers may register online or at 8 a.m. Saturday at Community Park. Games will begin at 9 a.m. Mohnkern said 16 teams already have registered for the event.
Mohnkern, who also organizes the American Cancer Society Bark for Life of Cranberry, hopes WifflepaloozaAM will become another well-attended annual event.
“It’s the beginning of great things,” she said.