Family Keeps Son’s Memory Alive Through Music, Baseball

ALLPORT – The family of one local boy who died more than four years ago has found a fitting way to keep his memory alive through two of his favorite things – music and baseball. The fourth annual memorial concert for Bryan Gregory Ennis will be held at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, June 6 at Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Allport, across the street from his former school, West Branch. The annual memorial baseball tournament and family carnival is slated for June 20 at Martha’s Park in Lanse.

“This is a way to connect Bryan to what he stood for,” said Jeff Ennis, Bryan’s father.

Bryan was a straight-A sixth grade student at West Branch Area Elementary School when he died unexpectedly March 8, 2005. Like many others in his family, Bryan was an avid fan of music.

To commemorate his love of music and celebrate his short but memorable life, his family – father, Jeff; mother, Miriam; older sister, Jennifer, and older brother, Tim – organized the first memorial concert to coincide with what would have been his 12th birthday, just a few months after his death. This year marks the fourth such year, and the concert falls just four days before what would have been his 16th birthday.

Entitled “Heartsongs to Heaven,” the concert features entertainment for people of all ages with varying tastes in music. Scheduled to perform are Lydia Crooks, Joe Quick, and Brenda Webber, Dan Nelson and Al and Karen Hewitt. Also performing are Valley Voices under the direction of Patty Coldiron; the quartet Hearts n’ Song, which includes Eloise Pifer-Rice, Edie Brown, Marc Gelfand, and Mr. Ennis; and Jennifer Sproull, Bryan’s sister and his former band and chorus teacher.

There will be a mixture of contemporary, Christian, country, and easy listening music, as well as show tunes and Broadway hits, Mr. Ennis said.
Admission to the concert is free but a good will offering will be accepted.

This year’s tournament and carnival is scheduled for June 20 at Martha’s Park in Lanse. In the event of inclement weather, it will be held June 27. The event begins at 10 a.m. and continues all day, wrapping up around 4 p.m.

“This really is a family event,” said Jeff Ennis. “It’s more than just baseball.”

Besides a tournament between the Four Leaf Clover League’s Minor League teams, of which Bryan was a player, there will be games, the always popular coaches’ dunking booth, a huge Chinese auction, and tons of food that goes beyond the traditional baseball fare.

“Best of all, everything is priced to be affordable,” explained Jeff Ennis.

Proceeds from the fundraisers benefit three scholarships awarded annually in Bryan’s name. This year’s scholarships have been extended beyond the West Branch district boundaries to include neighboring school districts. Mr. Ennis explained because so much support comes from the surrounding areas, his family felt it was only appropriate to open the opportunity to students in those areas to benefit from the scholarships.
Scholarship applications were sent to all churches within the Four Leaf Clover baseball league and the recipients will be selected by an independent committee of community members, clergy, and trustees. The Ennis family will award the scholarships the night of the concert. To date, approximately $6,000 has been awarded, and Mr. Ennis hopes that the award amount will grow.

“Everyone has been so generous,” Jeff Ennis said. “We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who donated, whether it is time, funds, or materials.”

Anyone interested in donating an item for the Chinese auction or contributing to any of the concessions is asked to contact Jeff Ennis at 342-1893 or Niki, Tim’s wife, at 343-4731.

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