By Perry Lefko

The Peel Charity Co-ed Slo-Pitch League has concluded its 20th season and aside from the players who participated in it and won a trophy, the big winner once again is the Cardiac Kids unit at the Hospital For Sick Children.

The Peel League has always donated money to charity, the last four specifically to Cardiac Kids, but this year’s season, which concluded September 10 had something different.

The playoffs were played at the Powerade Centre diamonds because of a permit issue at its regular base, King’s Park in Mississauga. In addition to its own league playoffs, it also presented the first-ever Swing Big For Little Hearts Fall Classic involving 16 teams in a separate tournament.

Through a variety of events throughout the season, the Peel League raised $20,000 for Cardiac Kids. In addition to the playoffs and The Little Hearts Fall Classic, the League raised an additional $1,300.

“The season was well worth it because we did great things for an amazing charity,” League President Rachel Kukulewich said. “We have raised record amounts of money for Cardiac Kids and that was truly the best part.”

Sick Kids became the go-to charity four years ago because one of the members of the league executive had worked closely with the President of Cardiac Kids.

“Because so many of the players in the league are parents, they felt it was a cause that everybody could relate to and that’s why they wanted to support it,” Kukulewich said. “We’ve got the whole softball community supporting it. It’s fantastic.”

There are 14 teams in the league, which plays Sundays at King’s Park and runs small events each time to raise money for the charity. The regular-season runs from May to August, followed by the playoffs.

“It’s very much a family league,” said Kukulewich, who has been playing catcher for two years with the Heavy Hitters, who have been in existence for 10 years and won the championship this year defeating the Punishers in the final.

“Everyone brings out their tents, barbecues and coolers. It’s just one gigantic great time. Most of the kids that have been raised in the league have come back and have started their own teams. That’s what sustains it. Since I’ve come on board I’ve brought on people from the Greater Toronto Area and Peel Region to play. ”

Kukulewich became President this year because her boyfriend, Wayne Barr, is the Ontario Provincial Co-ordinator of SloPitch Ontario.

“The one thing I could do was reduce the overall operating cost and diamond rental because of my personal affiliation with my boyfriend,” Kukulewich said. “We run charity softball tournaments and leagues together. Although Peel is my baby, we do side projects together.”