Brian Neben Lexington Clipper-Herald
LEXINGTON — The 28th Annual Joe Torres Mixed Sand Volleyball Tournament raised $4,020 for this year’s recipient, Kristy Connolley.
Connolley battles squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, characterized by abnormal and accelerated growth of squamous cells. She received her diagnosis in September 2021.
“I’m very grateful and blessed to have been chosen as the recipient,” Connolley said before the tournament.
“We would like to take a moment and let the Lexington community and those who participated in the volleyball tournament know how much you are appreciated,” Connolley and his family wrote in a statement. “I really hope you all had fun playing in the tournament, it was fun to watch while we were there.
“Thoughts, prayers and donations are appreciated during this difficult time in our lives. I am fortunate to teach in a community where people are not fighting alone. Thank you again for everything,” the statement concludes.
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Tournament organizer Jim Macias said 18 teams participated in the tournament, with players from Lexington, Cozad, Gothenburg, Kearney, Grand Island, Minden, Franklin and Denver, Colorado.
Macias said it was a good day, with great turnout and was happy to see people from Lexington and outside the community participating. “The tournament touches people’s hearts,” he said.
Macias said every year it’s great to see the outpouring of support for the beneficiary of the tournament, he added that it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about who the teams are playing for.
Everyone there Sunday was there for Connolley, Macias said, and “she’s in our hearts.”
For his role in organizing tournaments, Macias has been humble and focused on tournament teams. On Sunday, he pointed to the teams at Plum Creek Park and said, “They are history.”
Tournament participants could also enter the raffle, which included items ranging from Husker volleyball and football tickets, a two-ton jack, gift cards, tire rotations, clothing, hooks, cutting boards, panels, etc.
Macias noted that this is also the 16th year that Barb Hinrichs has provided a hand-sewn quilt and for the raffle.
Donations came from a variety of companies and individuals, including Tyson, Coca-Cola of Kearney, Black Diamond Auto, Lexington Regional Health Center, Reynold’s Love Funeral Home, Pinnacle Bank, ServiceMaster, D’Milacos, Plum Creek Market Place, China Hy, Nancy Sorensen, Lana Booker, Sheri Baldwin, Tracy Naylor, City of Lexington Parks and Recreation, Frontier Medical of Cozad, Platte Valley Auto, Heartland Chevrolet, Nelson’s Furniture, Lexington Family Eyewear, Fill-N-Chill, Trivent, Family Dollar, Staff of English Channel and ELA.
The tournament gold winners were the teams, “No Scrubs” from Kearney, the silver tournament winners were “Hy Hittaz”, which included Macias’ daughter from Denver.
The tournament’s origins date back to 1993, when Macias first moved into the community and met Joe Torres, who shared the same name as Macias’ best friend in high school.
He recalled that Torres was at least 6-foot-2 and weighed over 260 pounds before leukemia struck. Within three months, Torres was down to 150 pounds. Because he was a volleyball player, Macias decided to organize a tournament to raise funds to benefit his friend.
The tournament is a pool game and a double elimination format. Players step in as volunteers to referee when their team is not playing. “It’s all on a voluntary basis,” Macias said.
The idea of a volleyball tournament to benefit a community member with cancer stuck and for the next 27 years towards the end of July, community members come together to help support the one of them.
The tournament seemed to take on a life of its own, Macias noted, by 2001 there was constant local media coverage and sponsors began supporting the tournament regularly.
Last year, for the benefit of five-month-old Camilo Placencia Velazquez, 12 teams came from Lexington, North Platte, Kearney and Minden. Individual players came from as far away as Axtell, Aurora, York and Omaha.
“It brings out the best in people,” Macias said of the tournament, “The community cares about the people who live here; it’s overwhelming.