Fun in Fundraising – Playing to Support Your Favorite Charity

Ward Doonan
September 24, 2013
Westport, CT

In Platform Tennis Magazine

Look for a list of this season’s charitable platform tennis events in the first issue of Platform Tennis Magazine.

Every year, we all look forward to September to start preparing for another paddle season. But as we have fun playing paddle, we also realize that there are many more people who are not so fortunate. Noted in an article in last October’s Platform Tennis Magazine, as paddle tennis continues its dramatic growth, it also continues to focus on community needs through generous support of dozens of charitable events. And what a good thing, since charitable organizations are becoming more challenged to raise the money needed to support their causes as tax laws continue to change and other bureaucratic hurdles get in the way.

The SallyMy sister, Sally Rogers, was a huge influence in my passion for both paddle and supporting charitable organizations. Her initial involvement was due to Barbara Rau, who started a platform tennis tournament during the mid-1970s at the Fox Meadow Tennis Club in Scarsdale, New York, in support of the Boy Scouts in that area. After her son (a Boy Scout) went on to college, Barbara, along with Fox Meadow members Barbara Lippe, Yvonne Robinson, and Delsa Wilson, decided to continue the event, which had proved to be very popular, and chose a new beneficiary. They picked the Children's Village of Dobbs Ferry, NY, a 160-year-old charity that provides a safe haven for Westchester County teens who are homeless or have run away, often from unsafe or abusive homes. The children come to the shelter voluntarily, often after spending weeks or months on the street. Each year, more than 200 at-risk teens arrive at the shelter lonely and scared and leave with a safe place to go and a plan for success.

My sister grew up in Dobbs Ferry and Irvington and developed an interest in the Children’s Village, especially their Sanctuary program. She even “volunteered” her two children to help out at the Children’s Village in the summer. Shortly after Sally joined Fox Meadow, in the late 1980s, she signed on to help run the tournament and was the chair of the event for many years.

Last fall, I become more involved in “The Sally,” which was renamed following my sister’s passing, after battling melanoma, in 2004. In its 35th year now, the tournament is a competitive, yet friendly, women’s paddle and silent auction event for intermediate to advanced players. Sharon Saunders, along with a group of a dozen or more volunteers, including Sally’s husband, Jo Rogers, have been running the event since 2004.

Last October, The Sally drew 80 participants from five states. While The Sally attracts many levels of players, past winners include Lauren Mandell, Carrie Rabuse, Amy Shay, Cynthia Dardis and Gerri Viant, all nationally-ranked women.

The SallyLast year’s event was truly memorable since it raised $67,000, making it one of the largest charity paddle events in the country. Along with several significant donors and PaddlePlayer.com, which will sponsor the event this year, the silent auction is another successful avenue for attracting valuable donations, and it is fun, too. Gifts are provided by many local families as well as paddle pros such as Mike Gillespie, Frank Lorenzetti, and Mark Parsons, who donate equipment and lessons. The Sally has provided more than $500,000 dollars over the years and is a critical part of keeping the Sanctuary the warm, welcoming place it is for so many teens seeking safety and help.

After being part of and seeing the success of The Sally, I decided that I would participate in another charitable event. I had heard a lot about a local men’s pro-am paddle charity in December, the Long Wall Charitable Pro-Am supporting Danbury Grassroots Tennis & Enrichment Program and Amerikids. Danbury Grassroots Tennis began serving the community in 2006 and is committed to the mission of improving the lives of young people in Danbury, Connecticut, through the game of tennis and educational support. The mission of Camp AmeriKids is to enhance the lives of youth living with the challenges of HIV/AIDS and sickle cell disease by providing an enriching summer camp experience, year-round skill building, and a supported transition to adulthood.

What made the Long Wall Charitable Pro-Am event different for me was the camaraderie with the top nationally-ranked men’s players. Last year, there were three top-ten ranked pros, with several who have been ranked number one in the country. They participated and generously donated their time and support to raise money for these two local charities. The format is six round robin matches in the morning, with a single elimination tournament in the afternoon, where each amateur is paired with a pro. All together it was a great time, very humbling and the participants got a great lesson while playing. I had an awesome time and the pros did, too; most of them have been involved all three years the event has been running.

As you plan for this year’s season think about adding a charity event to your tournament schedule. That way, you are giving back to the community at the same time you are savoring the joy of platform tennis.

The Sally will be held on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013. Signup is available on www.PaddlePlayer.com/Charities

The Long Wall Charitable Pro-Am will be held on either Dec 7th or 21st, 2013.

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