Pickleball Helps Brighten Summer Camp for Children with Cancer

Last Updated on August 20, 2019 by Cathy Jo Johnson

For children dealing with cancer, the chance to have fun and forget their illness for a few weeks each summer is priceless. As part of their experience for the past two summers, Tom Gawne of Park Ridge, IL, and a small group of volunteers have introduced the children to the game of Pickleball.

On July 7-9, 2019, about 20 children ages 10 through 16 years old got two hours a day of exposure to the love of our game at Camp One Step in Williams Bay, Wisconsin (near the famed Lake Geneva). The camp is run by Children’s Oncology Services headquartered in Chicago, IL. According to the camp website, “Camp One Step empowers children who have been diagnosed with cancer to find new hope and believe again in a brighter future.”

This year Mark Renneson, a professional pickleball coach, player and CBS-TV commentator of the U.S. Open, decided to put on a special promotion with his manufacturer sponsor, Selkirk Sport. Mark ran a promotion via his website for Third Shot Sports to sell a special edition paddle released by Selkirk. For each paddle sold during a limited-time promotion, Third Shot Sports and Selkirk would donate a new pickleball paddle to the camp. In the end, nearly 40 paddles were donated.

“The children had a chance to decorate their own paddle and keep it as a beautiful souvenir to show Mom and Dad, “Gawne said.We are very grateful to Mark Renneson and the wonderful folks at Selkirk for this donation. We could not have done this without such support”. Gawne had a chance to thank one of the Selkirk founders in-person at their tent this spring during the U.S. Open during his visit to the event.

The summer camp is just part of a year-round effort by the organization with programs serving children and families who live in Illinois, Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest. With hundreds of annual volunteers such as Tom Gawne and his 6-member team, the effort includes medical professionals, serving children who are in different stages of treatment can attend the Camp One Step programs. The organization’s website says, “For more than 40 years, our organization has served more than 16,500 campers.”

For more information, to volunteer or to donate, visit www.camponestep.org.

Written by Dick Barton