Four-legged friends in the region are getting a paw up thanks to an upcoming tournament in Williston.

Pitching for the Paws is a project coming out of this year’s Leadership Williston program, spearheaded by class participant Bekka Johnson. Pitching for the Paws is a co-ed softball tournament being held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18 and 19 in Williston, with funds going to the Mondak Animal Rescue for some new equipment for the facility’s cats and kittens.

“I have a huge passion for animals, specifically cats, and I wanted to raise money to help the animals in town,” Johnson told the Williston Herald.

Johnson said her first goal is to raise money for the shelter, but in the long term she hopes to set up a non-profit that will assist with the spaying and neutering of cats. Johnson said she had been considering joining Leadership Williston for some time, and knew that she wanted her project to combine her two passions, cats and softball. She set out to put together the fundraising tournament, gaining sponsorships and grants to host the two-day event.

The tournament will be held at the Western Star complex in Williston, kicking off at 8 a.m both days. PD’s Smoke Shack serving up BBQ throughout the day, along with concessions by Studio 89 dance studio. Benelli’s Boutique will be selling some special themed items at the event, and special event stickers will be on sale created by Mandy Hansen of Northland Graphics. The public is invited to come watch cheer the teams on and help raise some money for a worthy cause.

“I’ve been thinking about my Leadership project for probably five or six years now,” Johnson said. “I want it to be an annual event like Marketplace for Kids. It gets to tie in my passions, so I can always put this tournament on that has softball, and it’ll always help the animals.”

Johnson said bringing her project to fruition hasn’t been an easy road, but that she was fortunate to have help from her fellow Leadership Williston participants, her mentors and organizations like the Parks and Rec. With Leadership Williston coming to a close on Sep. 22, Johnson said she’s excited to be able to present her completed project to her peers and the community.

For more information on the Pitching for the Paws tournament, email Bekka Johnson at or visit the Pitching for the Paws COED softball tournament group page on Facebook.

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