Student Gabe Stein, a seventh-grader at Maple Avenue Middle School in Sarasota Springs, New York, has precociously taken it upon himself to organize a kids’ pickleball tournament.
It is scheduled for October 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Saratoga Regional YMCA at 290 West Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
Strong Community Participation
The event is garnering strong community participation while also raising funds for cancer research and awareness, benefitting the American Cancer Society.
This initiative originated as part of Stein’s Bar Mitzvah project, driven by his desire to give back to the community: “I thought it would be something extra to do because a Bar Mitzvah, you’re becoming an adult, and part of becoming an adult is being responsible and giving back to your community,” Stein told Saratoga Today.
“I think it’s going to be really fun, and I think it’s also going to a really good cause.”
The response to the tournament for middle school-aged students has exceeded expectations.
Stein commented, “Our original goal for teams was 15 teams, and we ended up getting over 15 in a matter of three days, which was really surprising. I think, as of (Tuesday), we’ve had 23 teams.”
The tournament was capped at 24 teams to ensure each team had sufficient playing time.
Stein’s choice of the American Cancer Society as the beneficiary is founded on how many people the threat of cancer affects:
“I think the American Cancer Society was a really good choice because there’s a lot of people that know people, and a lot of people that are suffering from cancer at the moment.
“Maybe our donation will help.”
Fundraising Goal Quickly Reached
Participation in the tournament is open to kids, with a fee of $20 per team or $10 per individual. The fundraising goal, initially set at $300, was quickly surpassed.
“The first day of fundraising, we got a donation from CDPHP, and we already passed our goal with that,” said Stein.
Additional support from sponsors like Ortho NY, Keller Williams, Szurek Chiropractic, and the Saratoga YMCA, which provided the venue at no cost, has further bolstered the event.
Kim Stein, Gabe’s mother, emphasized the remarkable community support the tournament has received. Gabe and his friends demonstrated exceptional initiative, raising over $600 in a single day through door-to-door fundraising in their neighborhood.
“There wasn’t one neighbor that I knocked on the door that didn’t donate, which is great,” Gabe Stein said.
“I think, really, the truth is there’s not a lot of opportunities for kids to be involved in volunteering, especially since COVID,” said Kim. “I think there’s been a lot of involvement because parents really want their kids to be a part of this. And the kids love feeling a part of something.”
Swift Coming Together
As of Tuesday, they had raised nearly $2,000.
Despite the swift coming together of the tournament, with most planning taking place within the past month, the event has come together seamlessly.
Gabe’s proactive engagement with Maple Ave principal Scott Singer led to the tournament’s inclusion in school announcements.
Kim Stein commended Gabe and his friends for their self-sufficiency in organizing the tournament, with Gabe taking charge of securing necessary equipment.
“He’s working on getting the equipment that we need, borrowing from the gym,” Kim said. “There are aspects that I’ve helped out with, but for the most part, he and his friends have done it together.”
Positive Community Response
Kim also pointed out the overwhelmingly positive response from the community:
“I think the best part was when they came back from collecting money around the neighborhood, and they said it was more fun than trick-or-treating.
“To know that kids really get enjoyment out of this, and just having a lot of people reach out saying that they heard about this.
“It’s so nice, with all the negative stuff that happens in the world, to see kids doing something so good and getting so excited about it.”
Gabe’s ultimate wish is that participants enjoy themselves and realize what they are contributing to: “I hope people have a good time and understand what they’re donating to,” he said.
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