In a display of sportsmanship intertwined with a heartfelt cause, a local pickleball tournament, dubbed “Forgettaboutit!”, has made waves in the community. Spearheaded by Darlene Deo, a tennis enthusiast whose life was touched by Alzheimer’s, the event transformed into more than just a competition.
Deo’s journey into organizing this tournament began with a personal struggle. Her father, George, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017. Since then, Deo has been a pillar of strength, caring not just for her father but also nurturing a desire to aid the broader fight against this debilitating disease.
The idea to merge her passion for tennis with her newfound interest in pickleball was a stroke of genius. Teaming up with her best friend Eileen Grebe and teammate Kristen Lancaster, Deo harnessed the energy of her A1 Sawgrass Country Club tennis team and their collective enthusiasm for pickleball. The goal was clear: to support the Alzheimer’s Association in a meaningful way.
November witnessed the fruition of their efforts in the form of a month-long tournament. Aptly named “Forgettaboutit!” – a nod to Deo’s Northeastern Italian roots – the event was not just a sporting contest but a celebration of community spirit. The tournament raised an impressive $3,710, a testament to the team’s dedication and the community’s support.
The event was intimate yet inclusive, with 24 players participating. It included members of Deo’s team and close friends, turning Eileen and Mike Grebe’s driveway into an impromptu pickleball court. The culmination was nothing short of cinematic, with a tense final round followed by an elaborate party at the Grebes’ beachfront abode.
Amid the competitive spirit, the true victory lay in the cause. Deo, alongside her partner Laura Player, clinched the tournament win. However, both agreed that the real triumph was in raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research. This sentiment resonated with every participant, marking the event as a beacon of hope and solidarity.
The success of “Forgettaboutit!” has already sparked plans for expansion. Next year’s tournament promises to be bigger, involving more players from the regional tennis and pickleball community. This growth signifies not just an increase in participation but a burgeoning awareness and collective effort against Alzheimer’s.
In a world often marred by individualism, the “Forgettaboutit!” pickleball tournament stands as a poignant reminder of the power of community. It’s a story of people coming together, driven by personal experiences, to make a difference in the lives of many. As plans for the next tournament unfold, one thing is clear: in the fight against Alzheimer’s, every little effort counts, and every community has the power to ignite change.