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Pickleball tourney: Inaugural Turkey Ball raises $6,200 for charity


by Joanne Kountourakis | Thu, Dec 7 2023

Group photo from the first annual Northport Turkey Ball pickleball tournament, which brought in $6,200 for charity. Organizers hope to quadruple that amount next year. Photo courtesy Keith Brady.

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Step aside, football. The traditional Turkey Bowl enjoyed by friends and family Thanksgiving morning took a different form last month when Northport Village resident Keith Brady spearheaded the first annual Northport Turkey Ball – a pickleball tournament that transformed overnight into a charity event benefiting Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

“The inaugural Northport Turkey Ball tournament was a great success,” Brady told the Journal. Two dozen players participated in the event, played on the home courts of Brady and his friend and fellow Village resident, Joe Willen. 

The event, made possible through generous donations from local and Long Island businesses, and the financial contributions of several individuals and businesses, pulled in $6,200 for the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital Support a Family Program, through the department of hematology and oncology. 

“These funds will bring joy to many, allowing us to gift sick children and their siblings something special for the holidays – a small comfort during their challenging times,” Brady said. 

A local business owner, father of three girls, pickleball player and certified instructor, Brady said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of the many Northport and Long Island businesses, pickleball companies, and individuals who came together to support the cause through monetary and raffle donations. 

On its first day of fundraising, the event brought in $3,000 in donations. By November 24, the date of the tournament, that number had more than doubled. Northport and Long Island players ranging in age from 19 to 66 years old, including father-son teams, got on the courts that day after Thanksgiving, in a powerful display of pickleball’s age-defying appeal, and the community’s generosity.

Looking ahead, Turkey Ball organizers aim to enlarge the scope of the tournament, targeting a 96-player roster and a fundraising goal of $20,000 to $25,000 next year. Details for sign up will be available through the Fox Den Pickleball website which will be launching in the next week or two. Brady recently launched the company, offering lessons and games at his home court.

“This tournament is about more than just sports,” said Brady. “It's a meaningful opportunity to help needy children, especially during the holiday season.”

Turkey Ball winners Tom Laughlin, a Northport resident, and Mike Karmatz. Photo courtesy Keith Brady.

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