University of Virginia School of Law students with the North Grounds Softball League have raised $20,000 for a Charlottesville nonprofit, even though the group’s premier fundraising event was canceled over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual spring softball invitational, established 37 years ago, attracts over 1,000 law students from 50 law schools to Charlottesville each spring. Organizers expected the event, planned for April 3-5, to draw students from 39 law schools as far away as Florida, Illinois and Maine.

“While we were disappointed we had to cancel this year’s tournament, we are humbled by how our community and other schools came together to help us continue our support and strong commitment to ReadyKids,” said Austin Johnson ’20 and Ryan Ray ’20, this year’s tournament directors.

NGSL donated the proceeds to ReadyKids, which provides early childhood learning programs and other services for disadvantaged children. The student organization has been contributing to the nonprofit for more than a decade.

With the tournament canceled, the students reached out to firms that had pledged to sponsor the tournament to ask if they would consider donating their sponsorships to ReadyKids. Contributing firms were Davis Polk, King & Spalding, Troutman Sanders, Skadden, Sidley, K&L Gates and Hogan Lovells.

“We typically rely on entry fees, firm donations, sponsorships from Charlottesville businesses, and T-shirt and concessions sales to raise money towards ReadyKids,” Johnson and Ray said. “We certainly couldn’t do it without considerable firm partnership.”

Additionally, teams from William & Mary, Washington & Lee University, Georgetown University, the University of Michigan, Quinnipiac University and UVA donated their tournament entry fees. A group of UVA Law professors led by Professor Richard Schragger agreed to contribute additional funding.

Allison Henderson, ReadyKids’ director of development, said the nonprofit’s work during the pandemic has pivoted to supporting child care providers, arranging mental health counseling for children and supplying mothers with child care needs, such as diapers and at-home learning activities. Henderson noted that ReadyKids was originally founded in 1921 as the Children’s Home, an orphanage for children whose parents died during the Spanish flu pandemic.

“We are so grateful for the ongoing partnership with the Law School,” she said. “We are preparing for a spiked increase in kids that need support and healing in our community over the next few months, and the support of the tournament will be instrumental in our ability to meet this demand.”

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

Media Contact