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A positive community connection

Pickleball fundraiser benefits special needs programming

Special to The Sun: “It was for a good purpose, it was a good venue, it was a good sport to do it with, and there’s so much room to grow,” said Celie Coleman (left), who organized the pickleball tournament with Tara Tinshillwood (right).

Moorestown’s recreation center hosted a pickleball tournament fundraiser for the parks department’s special needs programming earlier this month.

“It happened in the blink of an eye, and for it to be successful and to be fun just goes to show that it was right,” said Celie Coleman, co-organizer of the tournament. “It was for a good purpose, it was a good venue, it was a good sport to do it with, and there’s so much room to grow.”

Coleman and co-organizer Tara Tinshillwood approached Cyndi Roberts, a parks and rec staffer, earlier this year with the idea, and Coleman believes the recreation center was the perfect venue for the event.

“We even had spectators who came to watch the tournament who asked to donate,” she noted. “I think this was something that can be successful, can happen again and will be positive.”

Special to The Sun: Undefeated champions Dana Krisanda and Rick Hughes hold their trophies. The tournament will benefit the parks and rec department’s special needs programs.

Fourteen teams participated in the fundraiser, and two tournament groups played against each other on March 18. The following day, six winning groups played against one another for the title of undefeated champions, who were Dana Krisanda and Rick Hughes.

“They were dominant, they beat everybody,” Coleman said of Krisanda and Hughes. “But they were never callous about it. They were so much fun and so positive, that you ended up cheering for them the whole time anyway.”

The event was a chance for people in the community to meet new faces, and after the games, players praised their competitors.

“Everyone’s talking about who beat who, and just really encouraging each other to play your best and have fun,” Coleman recalled. “Everyone was taking care of each other and just wanted to have a fun time playing, so it was really, really nice.”

Roberts was happy to see the parents of children who participate in the rec center’s   programs play in the tournament, and glad to see the center’s facilities used for a good cause.

Special to The Sun: Fourteen teams participated in the event and two of them played against each other on March 18. Six winning groups then played one another for the championship title.

“It’s still a great way to enjoy the sport of pickleball, which is becoming very popular,” she said. “I think just seeing the community together, like when the teams aren’t playing, people are enjoying talking with one another. It’s fun.”

Coleman believes that one of the most important aspects of being a part of a place like Moorestown is to support programs and initiatives that help to improve the community on all levels.

“If the purpose is going to be positive, that’s where we need to put our focus,” she explained. “Focus can be time, focus can be energy, focus can be money, and not everyone can give all those things.”

“If you open up opportunities where people can give one or the other, or all of them, then that’s where we’re going to see the most positive change.”

Coleman looks forward to having the event again.

“That’s kind of how I see this fundraising event growing,” she said. “You might start with this core group, and then we can get a bigger space or add more things to it, and we’ll engage the community on a larger scale.”

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