If you can dodge a ball, you can help a kid


The one sport you dreaded, or looked forward to, most in gym class is coming to Fishers in support of a local cause.

This fall, the Youth Mentoring Initiative is holding its first-ever Ultimate Dodgeball Challenge to raise money for school-based mentoring and its associated costs.

YMI is an organization that mentors youth at Fishers High School, Fishers Junior High School and through a pilot program at the Hamilton Southeastern Freshman Campus. It’s also in neighboring communities.

Darren Heil

Darren Heil

“Our philosophy is any student benefits from having another caring adult in their life,” Darren Heil, executive director, said. “There’s all kinds of reasons for that.”

From kids in single-parent family homes to those who have parents working multiple jobs, the program lends help to youth.

“We just want to put more adults into the lives in our community,” Heil said, “because when they have more adults in their life they are given the resources they need (and) the experiences they need to properly emotionally develop.”

Fishers Fire Chief Steve Orusa is one of YMI’s board members.

“The reason it struck me as being unique is because they target kids that are both academically doing well and academically challenged,” he said. “They focus on a need for acceptance in a child.”

Fishers Fire Chief Steve Orusa

Fishers Fire Chief Steve Orusa

It was his idea to line up the iconic red balls for a fundraiser

“I know that more people are more likely to play dodgeball than go to the golf outing because we’re saturated with golf outings,” Orusa said. “It (dodgeball) doesn’t require a high level of technical skill.”

The event is designed so that anyone, starting in high school, can participate.

Heil said local businesses are contemplating putting together teams and calling each other out for the competition.

He said the challenge is more than dodgeball; it’s the cause behind it and bringing the community together.

The funds raised go toward the organization’s expenses. It costs approximately $40 per month to mentor a student, or $480 to 500 annually, according to Orusa.

“I hope that we have a successful inauguration with this event,” he said, “and that we build on it and it becomes a tradition in the community.”

To learn more about YMI, visit www.ymionline.org.

Ultimate Dodgeball Challenge

  • Registration deadline: Sept. 30
  • Competition: Oct. 12 at 9 a.m. at the Incrediplex, 6002 Sunnyside Rd., Indianapolis
  • Divisions: High School, all male and co-ed with 8- to 10-player teams
  • Admission: $35 for students, $50 for adults which includes a T-shirt
  • To register and read the rules, visit www.ymionline.org/udc.