As a world champion dart player, Bob Hudzik is known for winning tournaments by hitting the smallest inner bullseye of a dartboard, which counts for 50 points. The outer bull is difficult enough to score but is worth only 25 points.
People say Hudzik likes a challenge.
When his wife Tammy Hudzik saw photos of 6-month-old Hailey Moore in need of a heart transplant cross her Facebook feed again and again, she was deeply touched.
She too enjoys a challenge. Tammy didn’t know how, but was certain that she and her husband could help the Moore family meet Hailey’s increasing medical expenses.
“What do you think about giving back,” she asked Bob, a custodian at Mt. Olive High School in Mt. Olive, Ill.
“I’m all in,” Hudzik recalls telling his wife in 2010. “We can do it, I just want to do it for children.”
Without hesitation, the Hudziks decided to organize a dart tournament by inviting players and teams from their long list of contacts in the dart world. The blind draw dart tournament was christened Darts for Kids.
At the inaugural tournament in 2013, Darts for Kids raised $10,000 through entry fees, a dinner, auction items, bake sale, raffle, T-shirt sales, and donations. The profits from the event were split between two families: the Moores and the family of a child living with cystic fibrosis the Hudziks knew in Mt. Olive. Since then, the yearly event has raised almost $175,000 and assisted over 90 families.
“We’re trying to take the burden of everyday living off the parents,” Hudzik says.
Helping families meet unforeseen medical costs was personal to the Hudziks, who had both suffered the loss of a child. At the tournaments, Bob and Tammy invite children such as Noah Blair, 15, whose life expectancy has been limited since birth.
The tournaments allow participants to see where their money is going, says Hudzik, a former member of the Cosmo Darts Fit Flight team out of Japan.
“You get a real personal connection with everyone at the tournament,” he says. “Most of the kids are terminal or are so far in that you just don’t know.”
The Hudziks will host the 8th annual event in September. Hailey Moore, 8, now has a near-clean bill of health and attends the tournaments in strong support of her godparents, Bob and Tammy.
Always a Problem Solver
As a custodian for more than 30 years at his alma mater (Class of ‘85), Hudzik’s commitment to serving children has allowed for increased connections to students and their families outside of work.
“It (volunteering) opened my eyes to local families who need help,” says Hudzik, a former chief negotiator and former president of the Mt. Olive Educational Support Personnel Staff.
“I worked with Bob for many years when he was president of his local,” says Marcus Albrecht, a UniServ director with the Illinois Education Association (IEA). “He was always a problem solver.”
The support Hudzik has received from IEA and school district colleagues seems to increase every year, Hudzik says.
“Whether certified or non-certified, pay attention to what your peers are doing because they only see one side of you during the work day, especially in bigger districts,” he says. “We’re all just trying to make a difference.”
While no longer an officer with his local, “he is always in the background, eager and willing to provide advice and assistance to current local leaders,” Albrecht says.
Orchestrating the events and working with the people surrounding Darts for Kids has boosted his confidence and negotiating skills, explains Hudzik.
“I was very timid at one point,” he admits.
How to Host a Dart Tournament for Charity
First, “be committed,” Hudzik says.
During the first two years of the organization, the Hudziks funded the entire event. Since, they have created a not-for-profit and established a board to assist in fundraising, advertising, and finding in-kind donations.
Second, says Hudzik: “Have a strong support staff with you.”
You do not need a large team, but finding a group of dedicated people will lead to a successful event, according to Hudzik. He continued: “Don’t try to save the world by yourself. You’re going to need a lot of people in your corner.”
Third, set a goal.
Hudzik says it is important to determine your goal, specialty, and sustainability early on. When the first event ended in September 2010, the Hudziks began their tradition of organizing an annual philanthropic event: a haunted house. But at the same time, their newly-formed “dart family” were anxious to start planning the 2011 dart tournament, which was originally going to be a “one and done.”
Dart family members persisted. In 2013, the event raised $25,000. Darts for Kids organizers now have their sights set on raising $100,000 for the 10th annual tournament.
“Don’t be afraid to fail,” Hudzik says.
One year, when Bob’s sister-in-law passed away weeks prior to a tournament, he worried about staying on schedule.
“You’re going to have hiccups,” Hudzik says. “Things are going to come up. You have to persevere.”