Home runs, hot dogs and outdoor fun will celebrate those who have served their country May 17.

Home runs, hot dogs and outdoor fun will celebrate those who have served their country May 17.

Embrace the Next Step, a group of eight central Ohio residents raising money and awareness for eight nonprofits by climbing Mount Rainier, will hold a home run derby softball contest for men and women from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, at Darree Fields Park, 6259 Cosgray Road in Dublin.

The home-run hitting contest will be held on National Armed Forces Day.

"We want to honor those that have served," said Dublin resident Mike Roderick, the driving force behind Embrace the First Step. "Veterans can come out with their families and have fun."

All money raised at the home run derby will benefit the eight charities Embrace the First Step is hoping to generate $80,000 for by the July 14 climb of Mount Rainier.

One selected nonprofit, the Wounded Warrior Project, will directly benefit veterans.

Other charities benefiting from Embrace the First Step's efforts are A Kid Again, the Ronald McDonald House, the Arthritis Foundation, LifeCare Alliance, Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Stefanie Spielman Foundation and Flying Horse Farms.

"We're doing something unique where your dollar goes to eight charities," said Chris Goodrich, a Columbus man making the climb in July. "One way or another, something in your life will be affected by one of these things."

People can join the home run derby and get the chance to hit 12 balls for $20. Plaques will go to the top male and female batters.

Hot dogs, music, corn hole games and a bouncy house for children will be available at no charge.

Former Ohio State University Buckeye football player and 2001 MVP Jonathan Wells will be on hand to sign autographs along with a few other former Buckeyes.

"The overall feel will be a day in the park," Goodrich said. "There are a lot of extras happening around as well."

T-shirts and bags from Embrace the First Step will be sold and donations will be accepted toward the $80,000 goal.

With the intention of donating $10,000 to each of the eight charities, the team is about one-tenth of the way there, but Goodrich said more events are being planned as the Mount Rainier climb approaches, including a Mukha Makeup and Martinis Day on June 1.

"This month, June and before the climb is when most of the events will happen," he said. "We're going to reach that goal ..."

"Eight climbers for eight charities, that's what this is all about," Roderick said.

For more information on Embrace the Next Step, look online at embracethefirststep.org.