Friends of 20-year-old Northview graduate Mark Allen Shipps are planning a softball tournament to help defray medical costs after the University of West Florida student was injured Sunday morning in a single-vehicle wreck near his home in Molino.
Friends of 20-year-old Northview graduate Mark Allen Shipps are planning a softball tournament to help defray medical costs after the University of West Florida student was injured Sunday morning in a single-vehicle wreck near his home in Molino.

Helping hands

Published 8:53pm Friday, March 29, 2013

A Northview graduate and current Auburn University student is in the midst of planning a local softball tournament in hopes of helping his best friend after a Sunday morning car accident left him hospitalized.

Brad Lowery said the tournament fundraiser called the Junior Classic will help former classmate Mark Allen Shipps Jr. and his family pay for medical bills related to the crash.

“I grew up playing baseball,” he said. “My dad and coaches hosted tournaments and a lot of people in the area played in a lot of tournament fundraisers. I thought it would be something people could get excited about.”

In addition, Lowery said Shipps, who ran track and plays intramural sports at the University of West Florida, is very athletic and an avid sports fan. So raising money through a softball tournament seemed like a good idea.

“Mark is the type of person who would be down to help if the roles were reversed,” Lowery said. “He is the type of person who would help anybody and everybody.”

Shipps remains in stable condition in Sacred Heart Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, but Lowery said Shipps is “on the road to recovery.”

Shipps was traveling west on Molino Road just east of Chestnut Road in the Molino community at about 3:31 a.m., when he crossed the eastbound lane of Molino Road and traveled onto the south shoulder of the roadway, according to a report released by the Florida Highway Patrol.

According to the report, Shipps’ vehicle, a 2002 Jeep Liberty, continued to travel on the grassy shoulder where the vehicle eventually hit a cement culvert and cement embankment head on and came to a final rest.

At the time of the wreck, Shipps was returning home from a formal banquet for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity of UWF, where he is a student majoring in electrical engineering. He is a 2010 graduate of Northview High School and is the vice president of the fraternity., where he is majoring in electrical engineering.

Shipps’ injuries include intestinal damage, two broken femurs, bruised lungs and a fracture above his left eye, according to his mother.
Lowery said tournament planning is just now in the beginning stages, but added that he’s been getting a tremendous amount of help from community members and family. He said plans are for the tournament to consist of 20-30 teams and organizers will soon begin taking up the $150 entrance fee per team.

“We have roughly 20 teams already that said they would play,” he said. “We’ll have a much better idea once people start paying for teams.”
Right now the dates for the tournament have been set for May 10-11 at Northwest Escambia ballpark in Davisville, but Lowery said he wants to talk to administrators at Northview to try and secure a couple more fields.

It will be a coed tournament. Each team must have at least 10 players with a maximum of 12 and three women should be on the field at all times, he said.

There has been a benefit account set up for Shipps at United Bank in Atmore. Donations can be mailed to Mark Shipps Jr. Benefit Account United Bank, P.O. Box 8, Atmore, Al 36504. Lowery said checks could be made payable to the account, but the account number of 151892711 and the words “for deposit only” must be written on the back of the check.

Those intereseted in fielding a team can contact Lowery at 850-232-3205 or by email at bjl0005@tigermail.auburn.edu

Janet Little Cooper of The Tri-City Ledger contributed to this report.

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