The Joan and Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island hosted its first annual Charity Pickleball Tournament to benefit the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island. Held on Sunday, May 21, the pickleball fundraiser saw over 40 attendees compete in a lively competition that welcomed enthusiasts of all levels.
All proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships went toward the free Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island which benefits children with cancer and their siblings.
Kara Roche, the marketing and communications manager of JCC Staten Island, said with the popularity of pickleball as one of Staten Island’s fastest growing sports and the JCC’s experience hosting successful golf, tennis and bocce fundraisers annually, it seemed natural to combine the enthusiasm for the sport with the community’s eagerness to give back.
“We received a great response from our players, who enjoyed a well-organized tournament with ample play opportunities for both high-level and recreational players, as well as opportunities to socialize with other pickleballers,” said Roche. “At the same time, the tournament helped position the JCC as one of the premier destinations for pickleball on Staten Island. By offering one of the first charity pickleball fundraisers on Staten Island, the JCC was able to get ahead of what is sure to be a new frontier for nonprofit fundraising events.”
Tournament and Camp Details
After several rounds of round robin play, the finalists competed in single-elimination playoffs before celebrating with a dessert and wine reception. Roche said the first-place winners were Ron Sussman and David Fischer, followed by Gary Bergamo and Andrew Lutter in second place, and Hen Genish and Anthony Galanda in third place.
Orit Lender, the CEO of the JCC of Staten Island, said in a press release, “Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in our community and we’ve received a tremendous response since we brought it to our JCC last year. We were thrilled to host our first annual tournament, which raised funds so we can give summer back to children with cancer and their siblings.”
Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is a proud member of the Sunrise Association. The only day camp of its kind in New York City, Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island welcomes over 140 children from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and nearby New Jersey to its location on the campus of Staten Island Academy.
Advice and Solutions for Fundraising
Roche said she encourages community rec centers to think about the activities their communities are actively looking to participate in. “Whether it’s a pickleball tournament, golf outing or even a happy hour for young professionals, there are many ways to turn the special activities that bring groups together into opportunities to do good,” she said. “It’s also important to have a strong committee of ambassadors who can advocate for your event — both for ticket sales and securing sponsorships.”
The JCC also works closely with community ambassadors who host third-party fundraising events, such as receptions, toy drives, happy hours and more.
Roche said they marketed the pickleball fundraiser through social media, specifically the TeamReach app, which connects them with hundreds of local players as well as Facebook groups. “We also marketed the event through direct outreach by our ambassadors and staff to participants who play pickleball at our JCC weekly,” she said. “We hope the event continues to grow, bringing in new, competitive players from Staten Island and beyond.”
The JCC’s largest annual fundraiser for Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is their SunriseWALKS event. This walk and carnival brings families together for a fun day celebrating the cause and takes place at the home of the Staten Island FerryHawks, a local minor league baseball team. The JCC’s 43rd Annual Golf and Tennis Classic in the summer raises funds for JCC Day Camp scholarships for children in need, and the Bocce Tournament in the fall raises funds for Sunrise Day Camp for kids with cancer.
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