4 / -9
      18 / -15
      31 / 19

      Athletes hit grand slams for Special Olympics

      Thursday marked the first inning of the 20th Annual Indoor Softball Tournament. The yearly event pitches all of its proceeds to the Special Olympics.

      Teams pay $650 to compete in the four-day event which typically racks up a $5,000 donation.

      "The teams pay a lot of money to come here and play," says tournament co-chair Merrilee Keller. "We pay for the use of the Dome and the umpires. The rest gets donated."

      The annual tradition begins with an opening ceremony honoring athletes from both the Special Olympics and the softball teams.

      "Makes me cry every time I see the Special Olympic athletes out on the field getting recognized," Keller adds. "It's a very special thing."

      Athletes travel from across the Midwest, anxious to hit grand slams for the cause.

      "Itâ??s nice to support the cause," says player Blake Handrick from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "Itâ??s usually a real good ball tournament as well, so good time to get out of town."

      The tournament continues over the next three days, ending with the championship game on Sunday.