COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A day at the ballpark in Columbus and more than a dozen teams are warming their bats to honor a beloved community figure gone too soon.
Those who loved Deonn Carter made it out to the ball field early Saturday morning to start The "Swinging for Deonn" Fundraiser Tournament.
During a moment of reflection, Carter's friends in law enforcement spoke of his relationship with first responders.
"Deonn was part of our family," said Maj. J.D. Hawk with the Columbus Police Department. "Not only us, all of public safety."
Carter's family, in particular, his mother, Suzette Ragland, thanked the rest of the community for loving and supporting Deonn.
"I love you and I'm glad he touched all your lives," she said.
It didn't take long for players to start getting excited and enjoy the competition- a day Deonn had been waiting for, according to longtime friend Ashley Herron, before he passed away.
"When he was in the hospital," Herron said, "We were trying to think: 'How can we give back? How can we help Mom?'" "Deonn knew about this," she said, "before anything ever turned south."
Carter died August 20 from a blood clot, after spending weeks in the hospital recovering from gunshot wounds.
Still, Herron said she and her family were committed to putting on the softball game.
"We're going to continue to do what we had planned in his honor, and just make it a great day,and so far it really has been," Herron said.
Seventeen teams are vying for the first ever Swinging for Deonn Championship.
Players said they were quick to remind themselves that Deonn would tell them they're all winners when everyone's together as a community.
The tournament's championship game is set for 9 p.m. Saturday.
Event organizers say the tournament is open to the public, as they are raising funds to help Deonn's mother pay for his hospital and funeral expenses.