A Paddle Against Hunger Marathon Feeds Body and Soul

NOVEMBER 27, 2011

Paddel Against HungerIf you were driving by The Patterson Club on Cross Highway at 1:00 AM on Saturday, October 22nd, you might have done a double-take when you saw all of the club’s platform tennis courts filled with paddle players at such a late hour.  But what seems like a crazy notion was actually part of a very special event that the early-morning paddlers were taking part in.

The Paddle Against Hunger charity marathon, held October 21st–22nd, was a unique, 24-hour paddle marathon to support the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and its fight against hunger in the local community.  The event began at 6:00pm on Friday evening and went straight through until 6:00pm the next day.  At least one of The Patterson Club paddle courts were in use each of the 24 hours and for 14 of those hours, all four of the paddle courts were filled with players supporting the cause.

The Paddle Against Hunger marathon was the brainchild of Patterson members and paddle enthusiasts, Joe Murphy and Dave Amendola.  Murphy had conceived of a 24-hour paddle marathon as far back as six years ago, but for numerous reasons, the idea was never embraced in a way that enabled it to become reality.  Then, last year, Amendola went to Murphy with his own idea to do a 24-hour charity paddle marathon and the two friends knew that, working together and with the leadership and staff at The Patterson Club, they could make it happen.

The result of the collaboration was something that neither Murphy nor Amendola could have ever imagined, even in their wildest dreams.  Almost 150 people participated in the marathon as players and many more contributed financial donations to support the cause.  The level of participation and enthusiasm for the event was staggering, even to Murphy and Amendola, who had hoped for a good turn-out.

Paddel Against Hunger
Terry Wilcox is flanked by the families that kicked off the Paddle Against Hunger marathon in the first hour of the 24-hour paddle marathon.  Almost 150 people participated in the event and almost $32,000 has gone to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission to support its fight against hunger in the local community.

On the fundraising front, Murphy and Amendola had set a goal of raising $10,000 for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.  With a couple of donations still trickling in, the event will have raised almost $32,000, all of which has gone directly to the Rescue Mission.  The final numbers have completely overwhelmed the co-organizers, who even in a “blue sky” hope-against-hope context, never allowed themselves to think that big.  As put simply yet eloquently by Murphy, “I am just overwhelmed by this whole thing.”

Paddle Against Hunger Team
(l-r) Terry Wilcox, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, meets with Co-Organizers Joe Murphy and Dave Amendola, along with Patterson Club representatives, to accept donations from the Paddle Against Hunger marathon.  Pictured from left to right:  Joe Murphy, Co-Organizer; Bob Waldvogel, Patterson Club President; Dave Amendola, Co-Organizer; Terry Wilcox, Bridgeport Rescue Mission Executive Director; Matt Dossey, Patterson Club Asst General Manager; Kevin Lalumiere, Patterson Club General Manager/Chief Operating Officer.
The fundraising from the Paddle Against Hunger marathon comes at a critical time for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.  The not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to fight poverty from the inside out as it embraces the urban poor and addicted with the compassion of Christ, offering hope and healing for a changed life, is set to feed an unprecedented number of families during Thanksgiving.  Last year the Rescue Mission provided almost 1,500 families with Thanksgiving turkey dinners.  This year, the Rescue Mission is anticipating more than 2,500 families for Thanksgiving dinner.

With the first installment of the Paddle Against Hunger marathon in the books, Murphy and Amendola are already looking forward to next year’s event.  They have had a number of participants excitedly suggest ways to make the event even better next year and the co-organizers are up to the task of improving on an already wildly successful undertaking.  Amendola noted, “We have the nuts and bolts of the event worked out now and, more importantly, we have an organization and a cause that really resonates with a large number of people.  We’re very excited to work with people who want to get involved to find new ways to enhance what we think is a truly valuable experience.”

For more information about the Mission, go to www.bridgeportrescuemission.org

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