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The Longest Day Pickleball Tournament: Dinking for Donations

The Longest Day Pickleball Tournament: Dinking for Donations
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Each summer, Greenwood, Indiana, transforms into a hub of pickleball passion for The Longest Day. David Mandelbaum, M.D., a physician with a specialty in palliative and hospice medicine, orchestrates an event that combines a love for pickleball with a heartfelt mission to support the Alzheimer's Association. This pickleball tournament, the Making Memories Classic, not only honors Dr. Mandelbaum's parents, but it also raises crucial funds for the Alzheimer's Association.

“Both of my parents, my father, a smart, witty, accomplished retired physician, and my mother, a woman with the energy, spunk and sense of humor needed to raise six children, passed away due to dementia after experiencing years of gradual decline,” Dr. Mandelbaum shares. “The poignant memories of their struggles with dementia serve as the driving force behind my involvement with the Alzheimer's Association.”

First Serve: The Inception of the Pickleball Tournament

When Dr. Mandelbaum first learned about The Longest Day, a signature event of the Alzheimer’s Association, he was immediately intrigued. The idea of turning something he loved into a fundraiser for a cause he deeply cared about resonated with him. Inspired by his father's mantra of "go big or go home" and the belief that "if you're going to do it, give it your all," Dr. Mandelbaum embarked on a mission to create a community-based Pickleball tournament in support of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Dr. Mandelbaum's wife, Anna, has a passion for pickleball. “She started playing to be more active and social. Then, she fell absolutely in love with it.” As she became immersed in this sport, the idea of hosting a pickleball tournament as a fundraiser for The Longest Day took shape. “Pickleball, the most rapidly growing participation sport in the U.S., provides both an excellent workout and great social interaction. We hear that one way to potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age is to remain both physically active and socially active. Pickleball checks both of those boxes. So, I could not think of a better way to honor and memorialize my parents while raising money to fight Alzheimer's disease and all dementia than by hosting a pickleball tournament as my The Longest Day fundraiser,” says Dr. Mandelbaum. “The more we talked about it, no matter who we talked to, friends, neighbors, colleagues, people that Anna played Pickleball with, everybody got on board. Everybody was excited about it!”

Paddle Power: Rallying Against Alzheimer’s

In the summer of 2022, the inaugural Making Memories Classic took place in a local park with seven dedicated pickleball courts. What started as a modest idea blossomed into a grand event, attracting 231 registered players from across the state and raising almost $36,000. In 2023, there were 255 registered players and over $46,600 was raised. Dr. Mandelbaum and his wife found overwhelming support from family, friends, neighbors, and fellow pickleball enthusiasts. Everyone came together to make the tournament a success, from volunteering their time to donating resources. It has become the largest summertime pickleball tournament in Central Indiana. “We had no idea it was going to grow to that size and magnitude!”

The success of the Making Memories Classic is not just measured in dollars raised but in how it has rallied a community around the cause. A large poster was displayed at the tournament that said “I’m here because...” so the participants, volunteers and spectators could share why the fight to end Alzheimer’s is so important to them.

Smashing the Fundraising Goal: Dr. Mandelbaum’s Ace Tips for Success

Dr. Mandelbaum's success with the Making Memories Classic is nothing short of inspiring. When asked about his keys to fundraising success, Dr. Mandelbaum shares that one of his ace strategies is reaching out to local businesses for sponsorships, recognizing the mutual benefit of promoting their names on tournament materials while supporting a worthy cause. He collects registration fees from the players. And he includes a silent auction of donated items, which has been a big hit.

Dr. Mandelbaum admits that at first, he was reluctant to ask people for donations and sponsorships. But that has changed. “I've gotten comfortable with it because this cause is so important. I’ve been surprised by how many of the people I’ve approached have immediately gotten on board. Oftentimes, they have a story of their own that involves a friend or a loved one with dementia."

Buoyed by the success of the first two tournaments, Dr. Mandelbaum and his team are gearing up for the Making Memories Classic that will be held on July 26-28, 2024. “The first two years have been a blast and we have plans to make the 2024 event bigger and better than ever!” Plans are underway to secure sponsorships earlier, expand outreach efforts, and create another memorable experience.

Dink for a Difference: Make an Impact for The Longest Day

“I love it. We have great support from lots of people and that makes this tournament a real labor of love. There are so many things you can choose to do for The Longest Day. Any fun, enjoyable activity can be turned into a fundraiser to support the work of the Alzheimer’s Association. That's what the Longest Day is all about,” says Dr. Mandelbaum.

Join us in celebrating Pickleball Month and the spirit of The Longest Day by taking Dr. Mandelbaum's inspiration to heart: turn any activity you love into a fundraiser to help end Alzheimer’s. Whether it's pickleball, baking, playing bridge, fishing, or dancing, find your passion and make a difference.

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