Cornhole tournament raises money for adults with special needs

Board Member Brian Koehn, center, looks on as Scott Shepard, Director of Avenues Supported Living Services, warms up for the 6th Annual Cornhole Tournament at Lucky Luke Brewery in Valencia to benefit Avenues Supported Living Services on Saturday, 050722. Dan Watson/The Signal

Cornhole is usually reserved for barbecues, parties, or as a time-killer on the patio of bars, but competitive versions of the game have recently grown in popularity.  

Bags flew at the Lucky Luke brewery tasting room in Valencia on Saturday for the sixth annual Avenues Supported Living Services cornhole tournament and fundraiser.  

The event, in conjunction with a silent auction, served as a fundraiser for Avenues SLS, a nonprofit that assists people with special needs with day-to-day tasks and helps them form relationships within the community.  

“All of this is in support of the adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that we support for Avenues,” said Natalie Cavarretta, director of development with Avenues SLS. “The fundraising just helps us fill the gaps in funding the state doesn’t provide and of course, now mileage with gas is… not going to increase anytime soon. And it’s just a huge gap there.” 

Twenty-eight teams of two participated this year, raising just over $5,000 for the organization.  

The prizes for the tournament were modest in relation to previous years, since the tournament was being taken advantage of by professional or semi-professional cornhole players who were in it for the cash prizes, according to Cavarretta.   

“We used to do cash and then we found out the, you know, the ESPN winner people were coming and they were just bombing everybody,” said Cavarretta. “We did have a ton of people here but the competition wasn’t… even balanced. So this year we’re giving away some really nice coolers that came from Target.” 

Participants of the tournament ranged in ages and skill level and the atmosphere was more of people having fun rather than a heated high-stakes competition.  

“We do play as a group of guys on a fishing trip every once in a while, but it’s nothing I take real serious,” said Brian Koehn, one of the participants. “They do a service that is just not nearly recognized as much as it should be. The people they support, and getting [them] out there in the community and interact into, you know, real-life situations, whether it be to give them jobs or really anything. They do amazing work.” 

The results of the cornhole tournament are as follows: first place, Cook’s Worst Nightmare; second place: Harley Heft and Yoda Lockwood; third place, The Gurne Family, sponsored by Valencia Acura. 

Max Rodriguez, left, and Rafael Medina warm up during the 6th Annual Cornhole Tournament held at Lucky Luke Brewery in Valencia to benefit Avenues Supported Living Services on Saturday, 050722. Dan Watson/The Signal

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