Alyson James was a life-long classmate of Riley Torbett and says openly she thanks God every day for putting him in her path. When Riley’s life ended way short of what anyone could ever have imagined on May 22, days before he and Alyson were scheduled to graduate, she knew she had to do something to honor Riley. A Pinterest post turned on the light bulb for Alyson and she put the wheels in motion.
Countless hours searching for sponsors, volunteers, location, and finally putting it all together resulted in a successful Home Run Derby that raised over $6,000. Riley’s dream will live on with all the money raised going to Project H.O.P.E., a passion of Riley’s for the last several years. He has spent summers in Nicaragua working with kids, teaching the children that he loved dearly about God and how he works in everyone’s lives. With the money raised Saturday, one school can be built and salaries paid to dedicated staff who have been in fear of losing their jobs due to the civil unrest there.
Alyson James opened the event welcoming everyone and thanking them for the great turnout. She gave a brief synopsis of how the event transpired, “When I was crowned in November of this past year, one of my duties as Miss NWFL was to create a platform. I came up with what I thought was a heartfelt platform. I felt great about it and started preparing for it. Then May 22nd happened and my friend and classmate Riley Torbett and Cason Hatcher were killed in a tragic accident. I felt very numb for several days and felt God working on me. I thought about the life Riley lived and the things he accomplished in his short 17 years. He was an awesome example for me and all of our classmates. He was the heart and soul of our Marianna Bulldogs and I know I am a better person because Riley Torbett touched my life.” Alyson told of memories with Riley that have remained with her since elementary school and her desire to keep his memory alive and thus was born the Home Run Derby.
Alyson James was most humbled by the turnout of the event, “I am forever changed because of Riley. To say I am thankful is an understatement. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped me. I could not have done this alone. Thank you, Dana and Rex Torbett for allowing me to honor your son. He was a one-of-a-kind person and left this earth much better than he found it.”
Alyson thanked the North Florida Queens, and countless volunteers to came out to work the tournament.
For the Home Run Derby itself, there were five age divisions with participants in every division. In the seven-year old division, it was Trace Pelfrey taking home the first-place trophy. There were eight participants signed up for the 8-10-year old division with Sam Kight Hamilton with four homeruns on the day. Riley Rowe came in second in the event.
In the 11-13 division, Lane Johnson took home the first-place trophy with four homeruns. Coming in second was Denton Lord with three homeruns. There were seven participants in this division.
In the 14-20-year-old division, Cody Gwin with four out of the parkers to take first place. Right on his heels was Mac Danford with three and Cameron Gray with two. Hunter Mitchell and Caleb Torbett both went yard once each. There were 20 signed up in this division.
The adult division was won by none other than slugging Scott Wiggins with 12 vying for that number one honor. Scott sailed out two on the day.
Following the event, a very humble Dana Torbett said, “I am beyond humbled by everyone’s kindness that participated as well as Alyson James for making this a priority and working so hard. Nicaragua will get a new preschool dedicated in Riley’s name. They will also be able to pay many staff salaries in Nicaragua so they don’t have to lose their jobs like so many others during the civil unrest there. What a blessing.”
Rex Torbett summed it up in a few words, “Awesome job. To everyone involved, once again Jackson County has stepped up and hit it out of the park. Thanks for the overwhelming support.”
The Jackson County Times recognizes Alyson James, Rex and Dana Torbett for an awesome accomplishment and appreciates the opportunity to be a part of this event.