Words: Sean Kennedy / Herald
Photos: Jason Belsky (@JayBelsky)
The sandy dunes of Point Lookout hosted a celebration last Friday in a feature of sport, camaraderie, and community, all in the name of one of Long Beach’s own — Casey Skudin.
The inaugural Casey Skudin Memorial Volleyball Tournament was held to not only raise awareness for charity, but also provided an outlet for all to celebrate a life tragically taken too soon.
The tournament was created in memory of Skudin, a member of the New York Fire Department and the Long Beach community, who tragically passed away a year ago on a family vacation to Asheville, North Carolina. He was killed instantly when a tree fell onto his family’s car. Skudin, 45, left behind his wife, Angela, and their two children, Ben and CJ.
In Casey’s memory, the tournament raised money for the 343 Fund, a charity that allows first responders to get the help they need with silent issues such as depression, PTSD, trauma and substance abuse.
The 343 Fund also describes itself as being “committed to providing access to alternative healing modalities, and short-term financial assistance, for first responders and their families.”
“We’re here today to raise money for our first responders,” Angela Skudin said in her opening remarks. “When people want to find a different way to heal, that’s what the 343 Fund is for.”
Over a dozen courts saw teams hitting, spiking, and diving in a mix of competitiveness and playfulness in the sand on the sunny day. Each team registered also donated to the fund.
“It’s very, very hard to ask for help,” Jill Brodsky, the tournament’s organizer said. “We want to break that barrier down and show that it’s okay to ask for help, and that we are here for you. I think as we continue to grow, and more and more people go through our programs, that stigma will begin to normalize, and support will continue to grow.”
The tournament not only served as a fundraiser, but it also provided a place where everyone touched and impacted by Casey Skudin’s life could gather together in celebration.
“The support has been absolutely unbelievable,” Brodsky said. “For all the people he touched to be here and support the foundation we started in his honor, it’s so amazing. Angela had the vision for this. I worked in the nonprofit space for a few years, and I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to put my experience and knowledge to use in a great way.”