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Tournament returns to keep memory of Saranac teens alive

WEST PLATTSBURGH - It has been nearly a year and a half since Stephanie Heath and Courtney Alexander died in a car crash in Saranac. But, their giving spirit will be kept alive during the second annual Courtney and Stephanie Memorial Scholarship Softball Tournament, Sept. 4-5.

The girls, who were seniors at the time of their accident, had both planned on attending the nursing program at Clinton Community College. Cindy Alexander, Courtney's mother, explained the scholarship was set up to help a Saranac High School student who was planning on going into the medical field.

"It's going to people that are a lot like the girls," Cindy explained. "[It's] not going to the smartest kid in the class ... It's going to somebody that doesn't have a free ride, with everything paid for."

The first year, Jackie Smith received the $500 scholarship, while Carmen Leduc and Heidi Chamberlain received the scholarship this past school year.

"It's a rough time of year when graduation comes around, but it kind of helps knowing we're helping somebody," said Cindy. "Every year, it will keep [Courtney's] memory alive, hopefully."

Smith considered receiving the first scholarship an honor.

"It was good because I was really good friends with Stephanie. We drove to school every day," she said. "I was glad to get it and I was happy."

Last year's tournament raised $9,000 towards the scholarship fund, and Cindy hopes the tournament will allow the scholarship amount to grow every year.

This year's tournament, which will be held again at the American Legion Post 1619, 219 Rand Hill Road, will have some minor changes.

"It's a one-pitch tournament this year," explained Cindy. "If it's a ball, then it's a base, and if you swing and you don't hit it, you're out."

This year will also feature monetary prizes for the top three teams. First place will receive $500, second place will receive $275 and third place will receive $150.

The event, which will begin Saturday, Sept. 4, at 12 p.m. with a balloon release, will also feature a Chinese raffle, children's games and lots of food.

"I just hope a lot of people turn out and remember them," said Cindy.

To sign up a team, contact the American Legion at 561-3452. The cost is $150 per team.

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