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 Optimist Club Hosting Annual Barry Elzey Day Festival Saturday

June 11, 2008 - The Knightstown Home Optimist Club will be conducting its annual Barry Elzey Day festivities this Saturday, weather permitting, at the diamonds in Sunset Park. Events are planned from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The day-long festivities were rained out last weekend.

The Optimist’s annual presentation of the Barry Elzey “Friend of Youth” award will commence at 2 p.m. in front of the concession stand.

Elzey was a longtime Optimist Club volunteer who devoted countless hours working with hundreds of children from Knightstown and the surrounding communities. He died at the age of 40 on Sept. 14, 1989.

Elzey first joined the Knightstown Optimist Club in 1971 and worked as a volunteer umpire and coach. He took over the youth baseball and softball programs as director in 1973, after spearheading the construction of a second diamond just south of the original field.

Elzey’s value to the Optimist Club and the community was immeasurable. He had formerly taught at Kennard Elementary School and then moved on to Eastern Hancock, where he was a teacher for 15 years.

He was best known for his unselfish work on behalf youth in the community through the Optimist Club. He directed and managed programs in baseball, softball, flag football, basketball and soccer.

Elzey helped form the baseball and softball programs in Knightstown, and dedicated most of his spare time throughout the summer to the kids in those programs. Under his leadership, the Knightstown youth league program became one of the most respected and copied in the state. By 1975, the Knightstown Little League program consisted of 12 teams in the 10-12 age bracket, and the girls softball program had grown to 16 teams. During the baseball and softball seasons, Elzey spent an average of 16-18 hours per day at the ball diamonds.

In 1984, the community recognized Elzey for his tireless contributions to the youth of this area by naming him the Knightstown Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year.” He was also named the Northern Indiana District Distinguished Optimist of the Year for 1988-89.

When Elzey became president of the local Optimist Club in 1972, the organization underwent a period of growth never before seen. Through that growth the club was able to accomplish a steady improvement in all of the youth league programs that hundreds of kids participate in today.

In 1973 Elzey was honored with the Distinguished President Certificate from Optimist International. He served as District Lt. Governor three times as was named Distinguished Lt. Governor in 1980.

Food will be served throughout the day at the ball diamonds Saturday, and several games are also on the agenda. A dunk tank will feature some of the youth league coaches, and there will also be a kid’s ball pitch, karaoke, raffles and a speed pitch featuring prizes.

Prizes will include professional sports game tickets, a 50-/50 drawing and more.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Knightstown Home Optimist Club youth programs.

 

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