Not many people remember what they were doing a month ago at 1:00am but if you were driving by The Patterson Club, in Fairfield Connecticut, you might have done a double-take when you saw all of the 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.

As we announced here a few weeks ago, the Paddle Against Hunger charity marathon, held October 21s-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 6 years ago, but for numerous reasons, the idea was never embraced in a way that enabled it to become reality. 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 something 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.

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 Rescue Mission. The final numbers have completely overwhelmed the 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.”

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. 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.”

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