NORFOLK, Va. - The fields and courts people are using to playing on have been sitting empty.
"There is an energy and a magic when you come to these events, and to be around everyone, it's electrifying," said Ben Canty, Norfolk representative for Stonewall Sports.
But that feeling Canty is referring to, for hundreds of Stonewall Sports athletes, was zapped in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"For a lot of people, this is how they interact with others, how they make friends and how people feel connected," Canty said. "Then all of a sudden it's pulled away from them."
Stonewall Sports is an amateur LGBTQ sports league that was founded in 2010. It is played in more than 20 cities across the U.S., with Norfolk being one of the fastest-growing operations.
"We were at 457 registered players before the virus hit, the largest at one time we have ever had," Canty said.
But the athletes don't just play kickball, dodgeball and volleyball. Their main mission is to give back to charities while promoting diversity and visibility within the community.
"While we we are not able to be together and play sports, we are always going to be committed and dedicated to do the best for our community that we can," Canty said. "In our first year of operations we put close to $30,000 back into the community."
So Stonewall is pushing on, working to raise funds for two other charities this year while being sidelined.
In the past few months, the group has hosted virtual events like Zumba, cardio classes and choreography. Canty says the majority of the athletes are even donating their refund credit back for the greater good.
"We have been able to raise nearly $5,000 just in the last two months," Canty said.
The organization still has philanthropy at the forefront during a pandemic that has forced it to pause.
"We owe it to our community to be our best for it to thrive and grow," Canty said.
Canty says Stonewall Sports hopes to be back in action during the fall. To join a league, click here.