The bases were loaded, and the bats were swinging for the fences as the Swift Current Slo Pitch League played for autism awareness. 

The tournament on Saturday was hosted in conjunction with Slo Pitch For Awareness (SPFA) Canada. SPFA Canada helps set up tournaments across the country for teams in every province, all of them helping further autism awareness. 

The money generated in each of these instances was contributed to either supporting an individual with autism or funding more research into the developmental disorder. 

Mel Smith at home plate, setting up with the other team. Mel Smith at home plate, setting up with the other team. 

Organizing the event for teams in Swift Current was Mel Smith, the secretary for the Swift Current Slo Pitch League. She was taking at-bats, and playing with her team while encouraging everyone to have fun.

"This is the first one in Saskatchewan for this year," shared Smith. "Typically they do them in Regina and Moose Jaw. The weather didn't cooperate so we had it in Swift Current this year."

A view of the ball diamond, with Pattison in the background. A view of the ball diamond, with Pattison in the background. 

Swift Current turned up in force, showing ten teams out on the City Recreation Complex. The weather was just about perfect for most of the day, with sun shine beaming down, and a light breeze taking a bit of the edge off the heat. 

Teams that participated had a portion of their entree fees donated to local families with autism. Each team had set aside a $500 allotment for a family of their choice, with Smith's team being no different. 

A hit lined up, moments after impact.A hit lined up, an instant before impact.

"Our team is supporting my friend Candace Schwartz," said Smith. "Her son has autism, which was just recently diagnosed."

Chase Schwartz, who is nine years old, is being supported not just by his mother and family as they learn to navigate his circumstances, but by a whole team who pitched in and went to bat for him during the tournament. 

"(Candace) is just going through the beginning stages of navigating all the programs that are available to him," said Smith. "We hope to continue to do this [support tournament] in the future."

Not every team was contributing strictly to families. Adults with autism were also being supported through the tournament, with many teams having friends or adult family members who needed the support. 

For anyone who would like to participate next year, should the tournament return to Swift Current, they can find more information on the Swift Current Slo Pitch website. 

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