Thursday, 19 October 2023 13:40

Local Student Organizes Pickleball Tournament For Cancer Awareness

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — A kids’ pickleball tournament established by a local student is drawing strong community participation and raising money for cancer research and awareness.

The tournament was created by Gabe Stein, a seventh-grade student at Maple Avenue Middle School, and will be held Oct. 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Saratoga Regional YMCA. Proceeds raised will benefit the American Cancer Society.

It was initially organized as part of Stein’s Bar Mitzvah project, with the goal of giving 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 said. “I think it’s going to be really fun, and I think it’s also going to a really good cause.”

The tournament for middle school-aged students has seen a strong response, easily surpassing the original goals for both its fundraising total and the amount of teams participating.

“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,” said Stein. “I think, as of (Tuesday), we’ve had 23 teams.”

The tournament was capped at a maximum of 24 teams to ensure each team will have ample time to play. Stein said he felt the American Cancer Society would be a strong beneficiary due to the widespread impact of cancer.

“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,” said Stein. “Maybe our donation will help.”

The tournament is open to kids, and costs $20 per team, or $10 per individual. The tournament originally had a fundraising goal of $300, Stein said, but this was eclipsed almost immediately after a donation from CDPHP. 

“The first day of fundraising, we got a donation from CDPHP, and we already passed our goal with that,” said Stein.

The tournament is also supported by other sponsors including Ortho NY, Keller Williams, Szurek Chiropractic, and the Saratoga YMCA, which is allowing the tournament to utilize its space for no cost.

Kim Stein, Gabe’s mother, added that many of his friends and other local kids have also pitched in. Gabe and several friends raised over $600 in one day by going door-to-door around his neighborhood, he said.

“There wasn’t one neighbor that I knocked on the door that didn’t donate, which is great,” Gabe Stein said.

They had raised nearly $2,000 in total as of Tuesday, Kim 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 Stein. “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.”

She said the tournament has come together quickly, with a majority of the planning occurring within the last month. 

“It’s probably been a month. Everything then had to happen really quickly,” Kim Stein said. “And he did have some help. He had a conversation with someone at the American Cancer Society, who gave him some suggestions for how to get people involved, and how to go about planning, and sponsorships.”

Gabe also said he told Maple Ave principal Scott Singer about the tournament, which led to its inclusion in the school announcements. Kim Stein said it was meaningful to see Gabe take the initiative of planning and organizing, noting that he and his friends have set up the tournament almost entirely by themselves.

“He’s working on getting the equipment that we need, borrowing from the gym,” Kim Stein said. “There are aspects that I’ve helped out with, but for the most part, he and his friends have done it together.”

She also emphasized the wide range of support shown 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,” said Kim Stein. “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 Stein said that, ultimately, his goal is for people to enjoy themselves and support a good cause.

“I hope people have a good time, and understand what they’re donating to,” Gabe Stein said.

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