Twenty-year tradition has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations and families in need in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area.

The MOT Big Ball Marathon will be making one final pitch this weekend beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept 1 and lasting until 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2 at Silver Lake Park in Middletown.

“This is our 20th, and in fact, our final year for the 24-hour annual MOT Big Ball Marathon. More than $600,000 has been raised to assist local charities, organizations and families in need in the MOT communities,” said Kate Rokosz, marathon president.

The funds are raised through corporate and private donations, incoming teams who pay to play, marathon player donations, concessions, vendors and children's activities.

“The Big Ball Marathon provides a way for money to be raised by the MOT communities for the MOT communities. Its neighbors helping neighbors. You'll see our Middletown volunteer fireman, our police, and town council out on the fields, along with local businesses, churches, families, neighborhoods, civic groups, and friends, all coming together for a common cause; to assist local families in need. You can feel the camaraderie in the air. It's amazing,” Rokosz said.

Admission into the marathon is a canned good which help to replenish the local food banks.

Four mighty Marathon teams will be playing for 12 hours each against 42 incoming teams. You never know what you might see on the fields. Santa has been known to come to the plate at midnight.

As with every year, the Middletown High School Band and the high school’s Air Force Junior ROTC will ceremoniously kick off the marathon at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 1.

“We thank this school, their directors, and the students for their continued support. This year, we are proud to have our own Middletown Mayor, Kenny Branner, throw out our first pitch,” Rokosz said.

Immediately following opening ceremonies is the Home Run Derby, a crowd favorite.

The Blonde Bombers are bringing the band back together for a not-to-be-missed reunion game on Sept. 1 at 9 p.m.

Princesses, super heroes will be on deck for the kids, amidst inflatables, candy drop, face painting, and Annie's Menagerie, which brings the zoo to you. For the complete entertainment schedule, check the website www.bigball.org.

Rokosz said while this will be the last 24-hour marathon, the committee’s commitment to the community will continue.

“As winds blow and communities grow, we know that everything in life has a season. The time has come to throw the final pitch and that will happen as we bring our four marathon teams together to play our last game at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2. It will be emotional, indeed (and another game not to be missed), but don't despair. The MOT Big Ball committee will keep our safety net community fund alive and well through continued corporate donations and mini events,” she said.

“On behalf of the MOT Big Ball Marathon board of directors, myself, Bill O'Neal, Nick Vacirca, Randy Rokosz, Rob Stout, Sue Mitchell, Marlena Day, Pam Unruh, and Susan Campbell, I'd like to thank the MOT communities for their support. I ask that you please come out and join us to have fun, cheer on the players and enjoy this quirky, community-loving event one last time,” Rokosz said.