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Who Won The Cornhole Tournament? Everyone

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According to the leaderboard, there was just one winner of VeronaTogether‘s charity cornhole tournament on Saturday: Team Lakeside. Unofficially, however, there were many, from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, to The Valerie Fund and Goryeb Children’s Hospital and on to all the children they serve. While VeronaTogether is still tallying receipts from the event, the total is going to be solidly in the five figures.

“It was an awesome day,” says Shawn Luftglass, one of the founders of VeronaTogether, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization created in 2018. In addition to Luftglass, the founders were Chris Kenrick, Chris Heimerle, Ryan Dacey and Brendan Walsh, who remain active in it to this day. “We’re five fools who come up with an idea and a date,” Luftglass says. “Then Verona comes together.”

And it did for this fundraiser, the fourth cornhole tournament that VeronaTogether has held and the first one to take place outside on the lawn in front of Town Hall. That was convenient for Jim Hill of Team Lakeside, who ran up the avenue to check his team in and, when told his start time would be an hour later, ran back down the block to finish getting some catering orders out the door at his Eight Hills Caterers, run out of Lakeside Deli.

Jim Hill (front) said his only strategy was “to have fun.”
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And despite coming from one of the best-known sports families in Verona, Hill swears that he had never played competition cornhole before Saturday and had no strategy for the tournament–other than to have fun. “It was a wonderful day for a wonderful cause,” he says. “And it was a way for me to get to know more Verona people.”

Luftglass gives full credit for the success of the 64-team double-elimination tournament to Phil and Jackie Dyer, the owners of Dynamic Speed & Fitness, the training business near the corner of Bloomfield and Fairview avenues. The Dyers, and their daughter Madison, have organized the tournament board at every VeronaTogether cornhole tournament and kept the teams moving smoothly through the competition lanes. This past Saturday, Phil Dyer ran around with the wireless microphone interviewing players and encouraging them to keep the bag tosses going. “They deserve so much credit for everything they do for us every year,” Luftglass says.

Dyer sends the thanks right back to the VeronaTogether. “Thank you all for letting myself, Jackie and Madison be a part of this tremendous event that, not only do I thrive on but am humbled to be a part of helping such strong, amazing kids in need,” he wrote in a text message to the organization. “What you all do to set this up is beyond amazing. Thank you all for having me help out. I am always honored for this opportunity.”

Phil and Jackie Dyer kept score, and kept everyone’s energy going.

The kids that Dyer referred to in his message are Dominic Cappello and Daria Gebbia, respectively a Verona elementary school student battling medulloblastoma and a Verona High School student being treated for osteosarcoma. The Cappello and Gebbia families recommended the three organizations that will receive the proceeds of this year’s event. Joey and Dina Gebbia also played in the tournament and made it through two rounds before being defeated by Team Lakeside. VeronaTogether’s previous cornhole tournaments have benefitted healthcare organization helping other Verona children, from the Progeria Research Foundation, to the Jett Foundation and the Alagille Syndrome Alliance.

And even has he tallies the proceeds from the 64 teams, their supporters and the silent auction, Luftglass wants Verona residents to know that they can still make donations to VeronaTogether to add to the total. “We don’t build a competition,” he says. “We build energy.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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