Toss for Tehlula Lee Foundation: Tourney benefits local charity

 Dealing with the loss of a child is devastating and heartbreaking, but for the Thompson family, remembering the 7-week-old daughter they lost to SIDS resulted in the Tehlula Lee Foundation, positively working to support families suffering similar loss. 

Marj Thompson and her husband Jack Thompson started the foundation after visiting the children’s cemetery and noticing that many of the graves were marked with metal nameplates instead of permanent headstones. 

“We wanted to give a permanent place for these children,” Marj said. Funds raised by the foundation have helped families within Brookings County, the Midwest and now nationally. The Tehlula Lee Foundation is currently working with a family in Maryland to provide financial and emotional support in placing a permanent headstone, Marj said. 

The foundation runs a variety of fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the cause, including the Powershop Gym/Timeless Fitness 5K in Brookings, Hamburger Month at Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill, coed softball tournaments, Quarter Crazes and the upcoming Tehlula Lee Foundation Bean Bag Tourney. 

“The family has encountered a tragic event and they’ve turned it around to something positive that impacts the community in the memory of Tehlula,” Kristen Carlisle, assistant director of the First Year Advising Center and registered bean bag tourney participant said. 

On Sept. 27, the foundation will host the bean bag tournament at the softball complex in Brookings. Last year, the event raised around $2,000 for the charity. 

“We had 50 teams register [last year],” Marj said, nearly doubling the amount of the previous years registration numbers. The registration fees vary, $20 with early team registration, which ends Sept. 20, $30 late team registration ending Sept. 25, and a $10 registration fee for singles. 

Singles participating in the event will be paired up the day of the tournament. 

“It’s a fun event, it’s a bean bag tournament … it’s $20, it’s a Saturday afternoon … it’s a nice thing to be able to network and build that strong sense of community,” Carlisle said. Both Marj and Jack Thompson are alumni of SDSU and both work for the university, which gives SDSU students all the more reason to connect with them and participate in the fundraiser, Carlisle said. 

According to Marj, all of the bean bag boards are hand-made by her husband Jack. Each member of the winning team receives a set of boards, and the remaining sets are auctioned off. Last year, 14 sets of boards were made, and this year 12 sets are in progress, with a few additional boards that were leftover.

In addition to the set of bean bag boards, if 30 teams register, the top team will receive $200 plus the return of their registration fee. 

“A lot of it has to do with our community … a lot of it has to do with how great the community has been and word of mouth,” Marj said. Close to 20 teams have registered for this year’s tournament so far. Registration for the tournament is done through the event’s Facebook page or through texting Marj or Jack. 

“Just do it, if you don’t have a teammate, come out [to the tournament] anyway … it’s something to do for a really great cause,” Carlisle said. 

The next fundraiser that will go toward the foundation was an idea brought to the table by the Pre-Health Professionals Club for which Marj serves as adviser. The members of the club will help with fundraising through the Nick’s Burger Bun Run, Oct. 4