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Liverpool: Bill Leaf Tournament to donate half of proceeds to Liverpool family

Sam Reynolds and Bill Leaf never met, but they had a lot in common.

Both have been described by friends and family members as bubbly, hilarious and likable.

And both met the same tragic end.

Leaf, 25, a sports reporter for WSYR, was killed in January of 2006 when he was hit head-on by a drunk driver on Route 81. Reynolds, just 14 and an eighth-grader at Soule Road Middle School, was killed last month when her family's van was hit -- also head-on -- by a drunk driver on Route 95 in South Carolina.

"It's so eerie," said Maria Leaf, Bill's sister. "You hear about drunk driving crashes all the time, but how often are they head-on? I heard about it and thought, 'This family's just like us.'"

For that reason, the Leaf family has decided to donate half the proceeds from the annual Bill Leaf Kickball Tournament, to be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday May 17 at Onondaga Lake Park, will go to the Reynolds family to help pay for Sam's funeral bills and the family's medical expenses.

"I wish someone had been around to help us when we were going through this," Maria Leaf said. "We want to do everything we can to help them through it."

The tournament

Now in its third year, the kickball tournament was created to honor Bill Leaf and to create a scholarship in his name at Syracuse University, according to Jim Lerch, program director at WHEN and WSYR. Lerch is also the tournament director.

"After Bill was killed, we were talking about doing something," Lerch said. "We wanted to do some kind of charity event -- as a station, we do them all the time. We wanted to do something to perpetuate his memory."

During the discussion, someone recalled a piece Leaf had done for WTVH 5 on a local kickball team in the summer of 2005.

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