PickleballCentral “All Heart” Award: Ken Marquardt and the Apex Parks and Recreation of Arvada, Colorado

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Women's Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER

Women’s Doubles at Apex Center in Arvada Colorado Photo Credit: CBSDENVER

It takes a village to raise funds for a worthy cause, right?  In Arvada, Colorado, you start with Ken Marquardt, USAPA Pickleball Ambassador, a man who usually doesn’t take “no” for an answer.  Then add 250 pickleball fans and a few folks at Apex Parks and Rec. who all have a heart for our wounded veterans, and what do you get?  A successful tournament that raises funds for the Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom program!  What a great story!

Eagle donated by Sharon and Ken Marquardt at the Outdoor Courts at Apex Center

Eagle donated by Sharon and Ken Marquardt at the Outdoor Courts at Apex Center

Ken got together with Mike Miles, Executive Director of the Apex Center in Arvada, Colorado to toss around the idea of having a tournament fundraiser to support wounded veterans.  They looked around for an organization to support and decided on the Rocky Mountain Human Services Operation TBI Freedom, because 100% of the funds go to support veterans.  Other organizations take 30-60% for administrative costs.  Once the recipient was selected, a number of meetings took place with some local tournament experts, and voila, there was a tournament planned and 250 participants signed up.

Pickleball for heroes cropped

They spread the word about the tournament: “Our community stands behind all the veterans for their service and sacrifice. They put their lives on the line every day for our nation, and to honor and recognize that dedication, there’s a unique opportunity coming up for you to personally help a Colorado vet.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go to Operation TBI Freedom, a privately funded program of Rocky Mountain Human Services, assisting veterans and active duty military personnel with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that occurred on or after September 11, 2001.”

The Pickleball for Heroes tournament began with a 30-minute opening ceremony, open to the public.  A bagpiper entered the pavilion playing “Amazing Grace”.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  The Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the flag, and Debi Blair, who sang with Bob Hope years ago, sang the national anthem.

Marine Honor Guard at the Pickleball for Heroes Tournament

Marine Honor Guard at the Pickleball for Heroes Tournament

The games began and everyone had a great time!  They had a range of players from 3.0-5.0. This “village”raised $43,861.00 for Operation Traumatic Brain Injury Freedom, a tremendous cause.

TBI Check Presentation

TBI Check Presentation

Congratulations, Ken Marquardt and the Arvada Pickleballers!  You definitely have a “Heart” for your community!

Check out the Arvada Press Article: Pickleball Goal is to Help Veterans

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