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GOP will try to defend its volleyball title Saturday

Easter Seals challenge puts Del. politicians on the court
By ROBIN BROWN • The News Journal • March 13, 2009

Their game, in its fourth year, is set to start after the 8:40 a.m. opening ceremony Saturday at the 2009 CAI/Easter Seals Volleyball Challenge. The challenge is free and open to the public.

Easter Seals spokeswoman Verna Wilkins Hensley said the games, starting Friday evening and ending Sunday, will be at the University of Delaware's Carpenter Sports Building between Main Street and Cleveland Avenue.

The Republicans won the last two years, but the Democrats, who won the debut game, "are just determined they're going to take the trophy back this year," Hensley said.

Rep. Greg Lavelle returns as the Republican captain, with GOP teammates Rep. Mike Ramone, former Deputy U.S. Attorney Ferris Wharton and Republican staff members.

Easter Seals is awaiting word whether U.S. Rep. Mike Castle will play. The Republican "has always played in the past, but we're not sure if he can join the team this year," Hensley said.

For the first time, the Democrats will be led by co-captains, as Reps. Valerie Longhurst and Pete Schwartzkopf take the torch from founding captain former Lt. Gov. John Carney. Carney will return as a team member, Hensley said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn headline the Democratic team, with others scheduled to play including Reps. Mike Mulrooney, John Viola, Helene Keeley, Bryon Short, Quinn Johnson, Earl Jaques and Michael Barbieri.

The politicians will play after eight Easter Seals clients ceremonially throw out the volleyballs.

Since 1981, the Easter Seals' signature event each year gathers thousands of players on about 200 teams from families, clubs, communities and businesses statewide to support services for children and adults with disabilities throughout Delaware.

Last year's event raised more than $300,000.

"We hope to match that," Henley said. "We know it's going to be a stretch to do that, but this year, more than ever, we need to raise those funds."

While most funds are raised by players collecting pledges, it also features a raffle.

"Oh gosh, there's so much stuff," Hensley said, ticking off the prizes. This year's include: big screen TVs, Four Seasons gift certificate and sports items. The public is encouraged to buy $1 to $5 chances, Hensley said. Some items also are being auctioned online.

Contact robin brown at 324-2856 or rbrown@delawareonline.com.

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