DELRAY BEACH, FL – On Tuesday, March 12, the Delray Beach Pickleball Club (DBPC) joined forces with the Valencia Palms Gift of Life Club to hold the 3rd Annual Round Robin Pickleball Tournament to benefit the Gift of Life Marrow Registry. 64 players, in addition to numerous volunteers and spectators, lined the courts at the Delray Beach Tennis Center to help those battling blood diseases find a cure through marrow and stem cell donation. Since its launch in 1991, the Registry has registered over a quarter million potential donors and saved over 3,300 lives. Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer, but 70 percent of patients do not have a related match and must search the worldwide registry for a volunteer donor. Barbara Cohen is one whose life was saved 8 years ago. Speaking in front of a hushed crowd, Barbara described her journey as a leukemia survivor thanks to a donor and a subsequent stem cell transplant that cured her cancer. Since then, she and event organizer, Gail Oliver, formed the Gift of Life Club at their local community, Valencia Palms, to raise awareness for the registry and established the annual fundraising pickleball tournament, now in its third year.
Before play began, the Delray Beach Pickleball Club presented Gail with a $1000 check. “The presentation of the check from the club to the Gift of Life Marrow Registry was one of the biggest surprises of my life, exclaimed Oliver. “I am truly grateful for the wonderful relationship our Gift of Life Club and the Delray Beach Pickleball Club has established.” The generous donation along with the $4360 that was raised by the tournament fees and raffle prizes are needed to offset the $60 cost required to process each laboratory swab test kit for potential donors and add them to the international registry for those seeking a lifesaving transplant. Only about one in every thousand people are bone marrow matches, and with 50,000 swabs each year, the need for fundraising is constant.
To join the registry, potential donors must be between the ages of 18 and 45 and in general good health. All it takes to find out if you are a match is a simple swab from the inside of your cheek. Although only three people were swabbed at Tuesday’s event due to the older demographic, Gail Oliver is hopeful that attendees who weren’t eligible will tell their children and grandchildren about the Gift of Life and and suggest they join themselves. Last year, that is exactly what happened when a participant who attended both last year’s and this year’s round robin advised his three sons to register and one of his sons ended up being a perfect match. He will be donating his stem cells in the coming weeks.
The day was a winner not only for the Gift of Life registry but for the nine who participated and won medals in their divisions for novice, intermediate and advanced play. In the end, DBPC Vice-President George Breault, said it was all about giving back to the community. “It’s our 3rd year doing this. We had a lot of fun. We raised money between the raffles and the games and our members are appreciative knowing it’s for a good cause.”
Club member Ellen Korelitz added, “The Delray Beach Pickleball Club demonstrated the epitome of what our pickleball community is all about. To all pickleball clubs across the country and the world, let’s all continue to use our pickleball platforms to make a difference, effect change and save lives in any and every way.”
On a beautiful Florida sunny day, playing pickleball meant more than just dinking and winning the point. It was just that. Helping to save lives.
About Gift of Life
Gift of Life, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Boca Raton, Fl, is dedicated to saving lives and facilitating bone marrow and blood stem cell transplants for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related diseases. The organization was first established in 1992 after Jay Feinberg, the CEO of Gift of Life, was diagnosed with leukemia and had no matching donor in the registry. Thanks to the persistence of a loving family, more than 60,000 donors were tested at hundreds of drives over a four year span. When his match was finally found and Jay was cured, he and his parents founded the organization as the Gift of Life. To learn more about the Gift of Life Marrow Registry, visit www.giftoflife.org.
About Delray Beach Pickleball Club
The Delray Beach Pickleball Club was founded in 2016 as a not for profit 501 C tax-exempt organization dedicated to encouraging, organizing and promoting the sport of Pickleball in the city of Delray beach and beyond. With its partners, the City of Delray Beach Parks and Recreation Department and the City of Delray Beach, the club has expanded to include free clinics for members, youth pickleball camps, charitable fundrasiers and organizing and managing an annual tournament, the Delray Beach Pickleball Classic. In just over two years since the club started recruiting players, 265 members have joined, making it one of the fastest growing, successful pickleball clubs in the area. To learn more, visit dbpickle.com
President/ Delray Beach Pickleball Club