Charity Weekend nets over $10K for TK

Tony Crosby, Carrie Vetrono, Rocky McElroy and Nathan Rose

As a community, pool players can be, to put it mildly, aggressive about their competition. Trash talk is common. Rivalries are legend. And when was the last time any of us watched an important match with a lot of money at stake where the two players actually appeared to be having a good time? That would probably have been a match in which Tommy Kennedy was one of the competitors. It’s hard to find someone in the world-wide pool community who doesn’t have anything but good things to say about Tommy Kennedy and as a result, when he fell, hit his head and suffered a concussion in March, which led to some healing issues that were predicted to take as long as a year, the community came out to support him.

It began with a GoFundMe campaign, which launched in June and was organized by a member in long-standing of the pool community at large, and long-time friend of Kennedy, as well, Roger Long. Last weekend (Aug. 7-9), Rocco-Rocky McElroy, owner of Capone’s Billiards in Spring Hill, FL and Carrie Vetrono, who moved into Kennedy’s neighborhood (Florida) only four years ago, held a charity weekend of pool to benefit Kennedy and his family. There was a series of mini-events on Friday, featuring eight-person, single elimination boards, called, in honor of one of Kennedy’s favorite expressions, “Ahh, come on!” boards, that drew 70 entrants. Between that evening and the two-day main event that drew 85, over $10,000 was raised to supplement the $28,000 that had been raised on the GoFundMe initiative by the time the weekend had begun.

All you really need to know about the $1,250-added main event is that Nathan Rose won seven straight to win it. Rose downed Ken Black, Marcus Murillo, Nick Fiore and Van Phan to face and defeat Kyle Bova in a winners’ side semifinal and then, got by John Gore to claim the hot seat. In the finals, Rose faced Tony Crosby, who’d been defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Bova, won five on the loss side (including his quarterfinal rematch versus Bova) to earn a spot in the finals. Rose completed his undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Crosby in those finals.

In his introduction to the GoFundMe campaign, Roger Long noted that “Tommy has used his talent as one of the world’s greatest pool players to meet and minister to hurting people all over this country (and others).”

“Now,” said Long, “Tommy needs help and since I know he’s too humble to ask, I’m going to do the asking for him.”

The community responded. Nearly 400 donors, both known and anonymous, contributed in amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000 and the campaign is ongoing. The campaign, on behalf of Tommy’s wife, Denise, has a goal of $75k. Contributions can be made on the GoFundMe Web site.

Carrie Vetrono was frankly surprised at the charity weekend and its eventual $10,800 to the cause.

“I didn’t think we were going to make as much as we did,” she said. “I was hoping $5k to $6k, so it blew me away when I figured out the final amount.”

In addition to $25 out of each main event entry fee, the event collected funds from the Friday night mini-events, straightforward donations, contributions by players of their winning prize money, and the proceeds from a 50-50 raffle, which included some eye-catching items.

“Tony Robles donated his two Mosconi Cup jackets (2003/2004),” said Vetrono, “and 100% of that money is going to Tommy.”

On August 5, Roger Long added a note to the front end of ongoing comments on the GoFundMe Page, indicating that Kennedy, though not completely out of the proverbial ‘woods’ yet had been making some progress.

“Tommy is up to 100 lbs.,” he wrote. “That may not sound like much to get excited about, but it does represent a 23-lb gain since June 28, when he was admitted to the hospital. Tommy was near death that day.

“He is home now,” Long added, “and slowly making progress, while he awaits an EEG test scheduled for October. And it’s your love, prayers, and support that have made the difference. We look forward to the day when Tommy can personally thank each and every one of you.”

Vetrono wanted to thank a lot of people herself for the support she received in organizing the benefit weekend. She thanked Rocco-Rocky McElroy, owner of Capone’s Billiards, for “opening up his pool hall all weekend and helping make the event great.” She also thanked Tony Crosby for his help, as she was congratulating him for his runner-up finish.

“Thank you to my sweet ladies for helping all weekend,” she said of Stacey Allen, Liny Nesmer, Gia Fiore and Brittany Ann, “and a thank you to Louis Smith (for) running around helping all day selling 50/50 tickets and helping with the auction.”

She also thanked TSPN’s Allan Hendrickson and Tanya Maples-Stremler for allowing their Web site to receive online donations and Mike Demarco (and Raymond McNamara) at Ship the Cash for streaming the event throughout the weekend and Ed Peterson from Buy a Home with Ed for being the event’s “#1 sponsor” and for technical help with the stream.

Vetrono also gave a special shout out to the players who showed up to play.

“This could not have been possible without you all,” she said. “I am overwhelmed with how you all helped me make the weekend great in order to help a great friend.”

Vetrono and Capone’s will be teaming up again in a few weeks, when the room will be hosting its annual Labor Day Classic on the weekend of August 5-6. The proceedings will get underway on Saturday, Aug. 5, with a $200-added (with 40 entrants) Amateur 9-Ball event for competitors with Fargo rates of 640 and under. Participation in the Amateur event will be cut off at the first 64 paid players. It’ll play out on 7’ Diamond tables; race to 7 on the winners’ side, 5 on the loss side. True double elimination, alternate break.

On Sunday,a $400-added Open/Pro 10-Ball event will commence, limited to 16 players, who’ll play on the room’s 9’ Diamonds with winners’ side races to 8 and loss-side races to 7. True double elimination, Texas Express rules. For further information on the event, reach Vetrono at Capone’s or on her cell phone at 631-901-9898.