SHEFFIELD LAKE — Robert “Bobby” Rosso was 23 in 2001 when he died after a drunken driver rear-ended the vehicle he was in before forcing it off the road and into a utility pole.
Bobby’s cousin, Beau Rosso, said the death was a devastating tragedy. But after 10 years passed, Bobby’s family and friends organized a memorial kickball tournament to remember him and give back to the community.
“We started this to try to bring something positive from what was a negative situation,” Beau Rosso said. “It was too hard in those early years to do anything. But after 10 years we started this to remember Bobby and have a good time, while at the same time being able to make a donation to the local schools.”
The fourth annual Bobby Rosso Memorial Kickball Tournament is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at Volunteer Field, 4840 Oster Road, with lunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
At this point teams have sold out, Beau Rosso said, with 30 teams organized and about 400 people participating. But spectators are welcome, he said, and $10 lunch tickets are available all the way up to the day of the event.
Funds raised go to the Brookside High School Athletics Department.
Over the past three years, the kickball tournament has raised $16,000 for the Athletic Department and $9,000 for the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake Youth Baseball and Softball program. The Athletic Department also gives a $1,000 scholarship in Bobby’s name to a local athlete every year.
Beau Rosso said kickball was chosen because it is an event Bobby would find humorous and it is something everyone can participate in.
“Last year, the youngest was 6 and the oldest was 66,” Beau Rosso said.
Bobby’s uncle, Sheffield Lake City Council President Richard Rosso, said the event is a fitting tribute to a life taken too soon.
He said it is truly a community-driven fundraiser with the Sons of AMVETS Post 55 doing all the cooking, school coaches donating their time as referees and local businesses chipping in as sponsors.
“For our family it’s very heartwarming,” Richard Rosso said. “The vast majority of people who participate were friends with Bobby and they are there to honor his memory.”
Beau Rosso said he thinks Bobby would be honored to know that people still remember him.
“He was a family man and I would describe him as a good friend to all,” Beau Rosso said of Bobby. “It’s important to keep his name alive and do something special to remember him.”