Erin “Heff” Heffner Ventress spent her life inspiring people.
As a University of Alabama volleyball player, she helped lead her team to an SEC Western Division title. She holds the school’s record for career attacks, and she was the first two-time All-American in program history. After college, Heff coached volleyball at the University of Montevallo, and moved on to teach physical education, coach volleyball and basketball to middle school students.
But in February 2014, she succumbed to cervical cancer at age 30. Heff was posthumously chosen as an SEC Legend.
Heff is the inspiration behind Cornholin’ Cancer, an annual cornhole tournament in its 4th year. The event is the brainchild of Heff’s family and friends, including TekLinks field technician Ben Meginniss. “Our goal this year is $17,000, which will put us over $50,000 in only four years,” says Ben. Funds raised at the April 29 event will go to the Jimmy V Foundation, which gives 100 percent of its donations to cancer research.
“We wanted to do something to remember our friend and raise money for cancer research,” says Ben. “We were told that if we break even the first year, we would be successful. That wasn’t good enough – not up to Heff’s standards,” Ben says with a smile. “We raised $8,000 the first year! In three years, we’ve brought in more than $30,000 on Heff’s behalf for Cancer research.”
Ben anticipates more than 300 will attend this year’s tournament with 60 to 70 teams participating.
“We are running two tournaments this year,” says Ben. “One is a social division for novice players. The other is a competitive division with a $1,500 pool prize. The Competitive Tournament is $60 per two-man team and the Social Tournament is $40 per two-man team. The competitive division will play for a $1,500 pool prize.”
The festivities will include a DJ, bounce house, raffle items (signed guitar from singer Sara Evans) and food vendors including Buffalo Wild Wings, Golden Flake, Full Moon BBQ, Mayfield Ice Cream, and Sysco foods. “Bring your chairs, tents, coolers, grills, or whatever you need to stay a while and have fun,” says Ben.
The 4th annual Cornholin Cancer is 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at 7416 Elliott Lane, in Leeds, Alabama. Attendance is free.Video: Watch a drone capture the fun at the 2016 Cornholin’ Cancer.