Tournament raises funds for mental health

Many people came together to get in some practice time before the tournament started.

Tournament raises funds for mental health
February 16
05:00 2017

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



Pickleball continues to grow in popularity throughout the state of North Carolina.  The tournament at the Gateway YWCA, originally scheduled for Jan. 7 but was canceled due to snow, finally took place on Friday, Feb. 10.

Close to 80 individuals from all across North Carolina along with participants from as far away as South Carolina participated in the event.  The round robin style tournament had people of all ages in a number of different ability levels.

The tournament was held to benefit the GreenTree Peer Center, 930 S. Broad St. GreenTree Peer Center is a gathering place for people who are seeking to improve themselves and their lives after they have been impacted by mental health or substance use challenges or other unique circumstances.

“You can sense when you are around everyone here that they have already become a community and that’s part of why they love to have these gatherings,” said Laurie Coker, director of GreenTree Peer Center. “We are doing something that is innovative and different that is also about community, so its cool having this kind of sport rallying around mental health recovery.”

Albert Noda, one of the event coordinators, says he was very happy with the turnout, especially since it had to be rescheduled.

“We had a lot more players than we thought we would have,” Noda said.  “I think we will get a lot more exposure because we have people coming from all over the state to play in this tournament.”

People come from all over the state to play at the YWCA as much as three to four times a week.  Greg Dunn of Salisbury says it was great to see all the players come out to participate in the tournament.

“We appreciate the Y (YWCA) giving us access to the courts this Friday because we love this game so much,” Dunn added. “We preferred to do a tournament that was going to benefit a cause and raise money for a purpose.  That makes it a lot more enjoyable and its more important to help out the community.”

Michele Todd Davis said “I think the tournament turned out excellent. I’m just blessed and excited about the support, the people that came out and the sponsors that donated to us. I’m ecstatic because we were able to raise over $1,500 in two months.  I’m glad we were able to do something to jump start helping GreenTree. Pickleball and the mental health community are very dear to my heart.”

The money raised will go to assist GreenTree in their social events and items needed inside of the building.  Johnathan Bennett, who visits the center throughout the week, says it gives him a place to go where he can receive support.

“It’s an outlet where I feel safe and I can share how I feel around those people,” Bennett said. “They have activities and they raise awareness. It makes you feel good and it’s all about wellness there.”

Todd Davis wanted to give a special thank you to the sponsors, which included Joe Shumacher, the oldest pickleball player who donated some of his pieces as prizes for the tournament.

To find out more information about the GreenTree Peer Center or to donate, contact Laurie Coker at or by phone at 336-577-3743.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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