FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The second annual Perroni Field invitational saw five Little League teams compete while fundraising for Alzheimer's research.
Samuel Perroni built the Perroni Field in 2014 for his two grandchildren. Perroni owned 8 acres outside of Fayetteville with two horses across three pastures.
"I was looking at this pasture one day, my grandsons were little at the time and played a little league," said Perroni. "I thought to myself, You know what, I could build a baseball field on this in this pasture"
Perroni says that initially he just wanted to see his grandchildren practice with their teams, but that eventually, more coaches asked to use the field. Seven teams now practice on the field, keeping the field busy every day. Matt Huson is the coach of the NWA Sox participating in the tournament and practicing on the field through the season.
"It just amazes me that he goes through those lengths to have such a quality facility that we're able to practice and play on," said the coach. "As the first tournament of the year and an unofficial tournament, we'd like to start off on a good foot and get the ball rolling, so to speak."
Perroni says that another reason he built the baseball field, was because he could remember when he and four of his childhood friends would spend hours looking for a field to play sports on. Also playing Little League when he was young, they would end up in the schoolyard that would turn out to be not big enough for a full field.
Admission to the second annual Perroni Field Invitational is free, all Perroni asks for is a donation towards the Alzheimer's Association. His wife, Pat, has Alzheimer's which is why Perroni has chosen the association for his fundraising.
"It's just a tough thing to watch somebody lose their memory like that," said Perroni. "If we can raise five to $10,000, every year for Alzheimer's research maybe some of our money will help. It won't help my wife. She's too far gone, but maybe it'll help some other people."
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that over 6 million Americans over 65 are living with Alzheimer’s in 2022. The Association explained almost two-thirds of that number are women.
According to Kiersten Dickens, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Association Arkansas chapter, the association is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer's research worldwide.
"There is a great sense of urgency that we accelerate research and raise funds so that we can offer the most critical resources needed because it touches so many individuals and families."
The field is maintained by three volunteers. It comes complete with a full dugout, stands, scoreboard, and concessions stand.
The tournament was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, teams played from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Around 300 people attended and raised almost $2000 for their concessions, t-shirts and donations. Sunday the teams would conclude the tournament starting at 9 a.m. and ending at around 3:30 pm with trophies and a check presentation to the Alzheimer's Association.