If you’ve driven by Mound Park early on a Saturday morning, you’ve probably seen the re-purposed tennis courts being used for games of Pickleball.
Pickleball is a paddle sport created for all ages and skill levels. The court is slightly smaller than the average tennis court, and the game is played with a paddle rather than a racket. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.
Dedicated players took to the courts Saturday morning, not just to play for fun, but to benefit the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund.
All together, the tournament raised $802.70, which will provide 1,070 meals for local hungry children.
The Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund works to provide meals for students in need through their Power Pack program. The packs are distributed to students through their school, and ensure that they have food for the weekend. The program is currently implemented in every school in Scioto County, and parts of Adams and Pike counties, serving over 1,000 students each week.
Steven was an avid tennis enthusias and his parents Mark and Virgie, host a tennis tournament in his memory. The tournament also serves as the largest fundraiser for the program, raising $18,500 this year.
“Of course a lot of people know about the Steven Hunter tennis tournament, but as Pickleball has grown, tennis has decreased a little bit,” explained organizer Jennifer Johnson. Johnson worked to recruit Pickleballers and managed the tournament. “Pickleball has come on as tennis has gone down, and so we thought we’d capitalize on this opportunity and not only grow Pickleball, but finding another fundraising avenue for the Hope Fund as well.”
According to Johnson, most of the participants play at Mound Park on a regular basis. Other members came from a group that plays at the Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Life Center.
“Jennifer has really worked hard to put this together,” Mark explained. “Virgie and I don’t know much about Pickleball. We’ve heard about it for a while, and it seems like it’s really come up. We were excited to see them play and see what it’s like. September is Hunger Action month, and we just want to thank them for taking action and fighting childhood hunger through the tournament.”
Johnson hopes to continue the event annually.
“This year we just did a mini-social and round robin format,” Johnson said. “Maybe next year we’ll try doing it in the evening and having a picnic or something like that. We hope that every year it will grow just like the tennis tournament has.”
For more information about the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund, you can go online to www.stevenshopefund.org, or by searching “Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund,” on Facebook.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.