The end result unknown, as always is the case with first-of-a-kind events, two likeminded organizations used a shared passion of supporting local youth to drive the energy when developing, promoting and organizing a charity pickleball tournament.
The summer collab between the Fox Valley Park Foundation and Kiwanis Club of Aurora delivered the 2023 Pickleball-A-Thon Charity Tournament on July 15 to Hupp Park, where the Fox Valley Park District unveiled eight new courts last spring.
And any way you spin it, the community-centric tourney exceeded all expectations by raising $15,150 in net proceeds, split evenly between the two community non-profits to support local youth and underserved families.
The two organizations came together to celebrate the tournament’s success at Kiwanis’ recent September meeting.
“What’s really cool is that Kiwanis and the Park Foundation have a common cause – and it’s about helping kids,” said Rachel Ossyra, the FVPD’s business development strategist. “The tournament was successful financially, but it was also successful as a community event.
“It was a happening. There were people there from 6:30 in the morning until after 2 p.m. There were signs and balloons and music … there was just a really wonderful vibe in the community.”
The tournament featured a max capacity of 48 teams across four divisions – men’s, women’s, mixed competitive, and recreational. Two-person teams battled it out for cash prizes and bragging rights in a tournament format designed and managed by Brad Schmidt, the FVPD’s general manager of golf and racquet sports, who ensured all participants played a minimum of three games.
“We wanted to take our experience running tennis tournaments and translate it to pickleball,” Schmidt said. “We wanted participants to get the most out of their experience.”
Tournament organizers thanked the generosity of 12 local sponsors, including Dunham Foundation as the Presenting Sponsor, and Gold Sponsorships from Kirhofer’s Sports, Oberweis Foundation and Fairview Dental.
Additionally, monies were raised through team registrations, team fundraising, and a raffle organized by Kiwanis members.
Tournament officials have already announced a “Save the Date” for next year’s 2nd Annual Pickleball-A-Thon Charity Tournament: Saturday, July 20, 2024 at Hupp Park.
“My takeaway is that the community won,” said Brian Tonner, president of Kiwanis Club of Aurora. “The pickleball community, Fox Valley Park Foundation and Kiwanis all came together and had a great time collaborating. At the beginning, none of us knew each other and we wondered, How is this gonna all work out?
“Well, it turned out even better than we thought, and goes to show how likeminded people can make a difference.”
For more information about the Fox Valley Park Foundation, visit https://www.foxvalleyparkfoundation.org/.