Warwick North Little League is hosting its fourth-annual Jaxon Marocco Memorial Tournament at the West Side fields this week.
This year’s tournament will feature five local clubs, including Warwick North, Continental American, Silver Lake, North Smithfield, and Scituate Foster.
Jaxon Marocco was a 22-month-old child that passed away from Niemann-Pick disease, Type A. In the summer following his passing, his parents, Mike and Toni, along with his grandfather Steve and the help of fellow Little League personnel, established the tournament in his memory.
The RI community has also engaged in numerous fundraisers and events to honor Jaxon and support the foundation that was also made in his memory.
“There were some other tournaments that began to sort of dwindle down so we took advantage of it and made this memorial tournament three years ago. This is the fourth running of it, and we’ve opened it up to everyone. This gives kids that didn’t have the opportunity to play All-Stars a chance to play in a summer tournament, while also raising money for a good cause,” said tournament organizer Jaime Banspach. “The tournament is run by volunteers, the West Bay Umpire Association donates all of their time, they do not take any money and give it back to the fund, a portion of the North snack shack proceeds also go toward the fund.”
This year’s tournament is also honoring another member of the local Little League community. Bob Brodeur, who was a key member of WCA and a close friend to Mark and Jaxon, passed away suddenly in March. Bob was honored during Monday’s opening ceremonies, and his son Zachary was called to throw out the first pitch.
“(The Marocco and Brodeur families are) very, very happy. We honored Bob Brodeur who was very close with Mark and Jaxon and has always been a part of the tournament and helping everyone remember Jaxon’s impact on everyone’s lives … it was good to be able to honor Bob and his memory as well,” said Banspach.
Banspach hopes to see the tournament have another strong summer, and for locals to recognize the importance of celebrating what it is all about.
“This is very important. These 12-year-old Little Leaguers, their season is over so this gives them an opportunity to play more in the summer,” said Banspach. “It’s a lot of fun, and for these kids, it’s special for them.”