12The cameras roll and six players stroll into the gymnasium at the Freedom Court Complex. They are confident. They are ready. They are prepped. The black jerseys with gold lettering stand out against the white brick walls as they walk onto the court.
On the opposite side, the other team huddles, preparing for the competition. The game that they are about to play will take them back to their elementary school days. In this world, there’s five rules: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.

In Fayetteville, it’s time for dodgeball.

Just a few days from now, Better Health of Cumberland County will be hosting its 7th annual Diabetes … Dodge It tournament. This competition is open to the general public for teams of nine, including three subs, with a registration fee that covers the entire team.

This now cherished event started years ago when Susan Miller, chair of the dodgeball tournament, was looking for “creative” ways to raise funds and awareness for Better Health’s community diabetes education.

“Organizations are always looking for new and unique fundraisers. Up in Maryland they do a dodgeball tournament that raises thousands of dollars. I brought the idea up to the board,” Miller laughs. “It’s been really successful.”

Miller admits, however, that their fundraiser isn’t quite up to the thousands that are raised in Maryland but the turnout in the community has been good. This year, the administrators at Better Health are hoping for 26 to 32 teams. It’s been two years since they’ve been able to run the event due to COVID but are excited about the prospects for this year's event.

“People can come out and have fun. It gets people active — to get out there and move and have some fun,” said Christiana Adeyemi, the Executive Director of Better Health of Cumberland County.

The event’s proceeds and sponsorship money will go towards helping with the diabetic education clinic that Better Health Cumberland County runs weekly. The program teaches community members about diabetes, healthy habits and how the disease can affect other organs like the heart.

“People get a lot of information out of it. Clients are excited,” Adeyemi said. “They can come and take charge of their diabetes.”

And at the end of all the dodging this Saturday, one team will walk out the victors and have a trophy to show for it.

“We were really unsure of what to expect. Our goal was to make it fun but competitive,” Miller said. “There’s been teams over the years that have been competitive.”

When reminded about the cult classic, "Dodgeball," Miller laughs and says they are nowhere near that competitive. The main thing Better Health administrators would like is awareness and for everyone to have a really good time.

The event will be on Aug. 27 at the Freedom Court Complex. Teams of six or more can register to play in the event for $150.

Spectators are welcome. The event will start at 9 a.m. and last until 1 p.m. Tickets for the general public will be on sale for $5. For more information, visit betterhealthcc.org.

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