The Middletown Pickleball Association‘s recent 24-hour pickleball marathon was a huge success, drawing 220 participants and raising nearly $1,700 for local charities.
Non-Stop Pickleball Action
The event was held at Lefferson Park, Middletown, Ohio and featured non-stop pickleball action from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. In addition to the pickleball, you could enjoy music, line dancing, cornhole, and food.
Doug and Gayle Lear, both avid pickleball players, oversaw the marathon. They started the event six years ago to raise money for the Middletown Community Foundation, which provides grants to local organizations that support education, health, and human services.
The 18 Middletown Pickleball Association courts were alive with activity as the Labor Day event drew 220 participants. The event was open to all – $20 got participants a wristband, allowing them to go and play as much or as little as they pleased.
Rally Together As A Community
While centered around sport and recreation, this friendly competition had a deeper purpose. It was looking to raise money for Smile (Something to Make It a Little Easier) Closets, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing essential school supplies to elementary students in need.
Event director Gayle Lear expressed, “We wanted to rally together as a community and use our shared love of pickleball to make a difference for local families.”
Some dedicated competitors even chose to camp onsite to maximize their time on the courts.
An Electric Atmosphere
Lear described the atmosphere as electric, emphasizing how people came together at all hours, bound by a common goal, creating a heartwarming experience.
Gayle and Doug announced on the Middletown Pickleball Association Facebook page that the Marathon had successfully raised an impressive $5,579.00!
After accounting for expenses, including the VAPTR Water Remover, a substantial sum of $1,683.75 would be directed towards supporting the Smile Closet (Something to Make It a Little Easier).
The funds raised will directly benefit over 100 students, providing backpacks, shoes, coats, and other essentials that are often taken for granted. These items can be a financial strain on families facing economic challenges.
The dedicated volunteers at Smile Closet collaborate with teachers from the eight Middletown Schools to compile a list of essential items required by students. These selfless efforts help provide winter coats, shoes, and appropriate clothing, as well as vital school supplies and basic hygiene items to those in need.
Local Walmart and Meijer stores play a crucial role by offering many of these items at reduced prices. Smile Closet works hand-in-hand with two local Churches – First Methodist and Christ United Methodist – further extending their reach and impact.
Gayle revealed that upon sharing the donation with Dee Sellers, her contact at Smile Closet, this morning, she was visibly moved, underscoring the profound impact of our contribution.
“We expected to maybe get $200. This will help so many children.”
Gayle also sent out a heartfelt appreciation to dedicated volunteers: Michell Cook, Terry Lee Sharp, A Pete George, Curt Reimer, Don Murphy, and Jason Potter, who handled the audio setup.
Special thanks also went to Shawn Paul and Rick Chambers for capturing the moments through their photography.
Participants From All Over North America
Players came from various parts of the U.S., including Kevin and Yolanda “YoYo” Monroe from New York, a spirited group of over 20 from Coshocton and Columbus, Shawn Paul from Cleveland, as well as participants from Charleston and Michigan.
Floyd Belden from Arizona joined us, alongside numerous local friends and club members. Vincent Lavoie journeyed from Toronto to partake in the event, even capturing stunning drone imagery.
Many players even returned for additional play on Monday, and the sense of community and shared purpose was palpable.
In True Pickleball Spirit
In true pickleball spirit, the marathon was a collaborative endeavor. The city provided the facilities, local businesses contributed prizes, and the pickleball association orchestrated the event.
Lear commended Middletown for exemplifying true community service, and she envisions the marathon’s success becoming an annual tradition: “Middletown really showed what it means to serve your community,” she said.
Middletown Pickleball Association
The Middletown Pickleball Association’s mission is to advance pickleball’s growth, emphasizing sportsmanship, physical fitness, and healthful recreation. It is committed to nurturing regional amateur sports competition in pickleball, ensuring the adherence to official rules of play.
The association also actively encourages and organizes pickleball tournaments and exhibitions while promoting and publicizing the sport to a wider audience. These endeavors are in line with the goals of non-profit organizations.
All fundraising efforts are dedicated to the upkeep and enhancement of the Lefferson Park facility, directly contributing to fulfilling the abovementioned objectives.
Lefferson Park is located at 2145 S Breiel Boulevard, Middletown, Ohio 45044.
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