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Remembering Colleen Smith

Family of Colleen Smith
Bob Wright and Angela Wright throw out the first pitches.

The Colleen P. Smith Memorial Softball Tournament is still going strong, with hundreds of people showing up Saturday at Burholme Park.

Twenty-three teams played in competitive and fun divisions, with winners earning trophies and bragging rights.

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But the most important part of the day is remembering Colleen Smith and raising money for her memorial fund.

Colleen had just turned 16 and was about to enter her junior year at Cardinal Dougherty when she died in August 2008 in an accident with a SEPTA train as she was walking back to her Burholme house.

Colleen was a St. Cecilia graduate who played volleyball and softball at Dougherty – homering in her last game, played at Burholme Park – and loved art.

“She put a lot into the 16 years she had,” said Brian Smith, her dad.

Soon after Colleen passed away, a small softball tournament was held at Dougherty.

The following year, the tournament moved to Burholme Park, and today a nine-member board oversees the nonprofit Colleen P. Smith Memorial Fund.

“We want people to have fun,” Smith said. “We have family and friends, new teams every year and people we’ve never met. A lot of people tell me it’s the best day of the year.”

Smith thanked the office of City Councilman Brian O’Neill for arranging for six fields to be ready for a day of softball. O’Neill’s office credited Sue Buck, deputy commissioner for the city Department of Parks and Recreation, for making it happen.

A pre-tournament ceremony featured words from Colleen’s sister, Dottie.

“She’s smiling down on us all,” she said.

Brian Smith said this year’s tournament was dedicated to Bob Wright, his longtime friend, a memorial fund board member and Colleen’s godfather, who passed away last November. His children, Angela and Bob, threw out the first pitches, and a banner hung in his memory.

The ceremony also included a prayer and a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by local Irish entertainer Joe Mullen.

The 14th tournament – two years were missed due to COVID – was expected to raise up to $11,000. The day also featured a DJ, raffles, face painting and a moonbounce.

In all, the memorial fund has donated more $100,000 over the years. The intent was to benefit Dougherty, but the school closed in 2010.

Now, the money goes to help families who experience the sudden death of a child, scholarships for local students entering archdiocesan high schools and area sports organizations, such as Fox-Rok and Penn Academy.

The Smiths thank everyone who made Saturday’s event a success.

“These people, they show up for us every year,” said Dorothy Smith, Colleen’s mom. ••

Donations can be sent to Colleen P. Smith Memorial Fund, 7407 Tabor Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111. For more information, go to ColleensFund.org. ••

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