Live 4 Tay Foundation finishes a faithful run on a high note

Taylor Filorimo (far left) is pictured with her dad J.D. Filorimo, sister Skylar Filorimo and mom Maria Herrold (far right) at the first “Play 4 Tay” softball event in 2009.

After nearly a decade of helping families in Rutherford County, the Murfreesboro-based Live 4 Tay Foundation has announced it will no longer hold events.

The foundation was formed in September of 2012 when Riverdale High School student and softball player Taylor Filorimo, 16, died of renal cell carcinoma. She had been diagnosed with the form of kidney cancer just three years prior.

Before Filorimo’s death, a series of “Play 4 Tay” fast-pitch softball tournaments had been held around the county each September to raise money for the Filorimo family.

Foundation Board Member Karen Clark said it was Filorimo’s wish to extend the acts of generosity shown her way to other families in need of support during a challenging time.

The foundation has been able to give $423,000 to the community in the form of grants and scholarships with many referrals coming from social workers for nearby hospitals.

“After Taylor passed, we really had no idea what to expect. When you’re holding fundraisers and people can put a face with an event, people, a lot of times, have pretty strong emotional feelings about wanting to help,” said Clark.

The first softball tournament the foundation hosted had 15 teams. That skyrocketed to 119 teams in its most successful year. In the span of 11 years, Play 4 Tay had a total of 830 teams pitching and hitting for a cause.

The foundation decided to break the boundaries of the “softball swimming pool” with other fundraising activities including an annual golf tournament, poker run and turkey shoot in November.

The eighth annual golf tournament that took place in May set a participation record with 27 teams.

The softball tournaments required hundreds of volunteers.

“While our event sizes are growing, the number of volunteers that we’ve been able to recruit to help has been shrinking,” said Clark. “You know, people are working from home. They’re getting more sucked in behind their computer screens. There’s a lot of different reasons that people are not out and volunteering the way that they used to.”

She said the foundation had made a promise to itself and Taylor, in spirit, that if there ever came a point when the events exceeded the threshold of being able to be managed in a dignified and safe manner, that they would come to an end.

Clark also said so much time has passed that several of the participating teams in more recent years have not been personally familiar with Filorimo or her story.

The foundation’s online announcement about its ending, released July 19, thanks all participants who’ve given their time, donations and support on behalf of its members and Filorimo’s parents J.D. Filorimo and Maria Herrold.

Clark said Filorimo’s main goal was to raise awareness for childhood cancers, represented by a gold ribbon.

“Her cancer was not a pediatric cancer. It was an adult cancer, but because she was a child, she was treated in facilities that were full of children, and it absolutely broke her heart,” said Clark.

When Filorimo was well enough, she would spend time with other children in the hospital when their parents briefly left the room for a meal.

While the decision was a tough one to make, Clark said that she is proud of the foundation’s longevity. In her eyes, it will be those who were involved from the get-go to continue keeping kindness in play.

“They are going to carry those little bits and pieces of her throughout their lives,” said Clark, who said she doesn’t see Filorimo’s shining legacy fading any time soon. “It’s just going to carry on in a different way.”