For anyone who plays a racquet sport like tennis, pickleball is a natural draw.
For tennis player Darlene Deo, a pickleball tournament was the natural way to raise money to fight a disease that profoundly affects her family.
Deo’s father, George, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2017 and since then, she’s made a commitment to care for him and others who are fighting the devastating disease.
Deo, her best friend Eileen Grebe and teammate Kristen Lancaster cooked up a way to combine Deo’s A1 Sawgrass Country Club tennis team, their fascination with pickleball and a desire to do something for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The result was “Forgettaboutit!”, a month-long pickleball tournament in November which raised $3,710.
“We’re Italian from the Northeast, that just seemed like the most appropriate name,” Deo said with a chuckle.
Despite the name, the experience was a memorable one.
“It made me very emotional, because honestly, I love everyone on our team and it was the best feeling to be able to know that we were able to give back,” Deo said.
Twenty-four players took part, which included Deo’s team and some close friends.
The tournament mostly took place on Eileen and Mike Grebe’s driveway-turned-pickleball court and ended with a nail-biter of a final round and elaborate party at the Grebes’ beachfront home.
Deo and partner Laura Player won the tournament but agree the best part of the experience was being able to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Plans are already in the works to expand the tournament next year and involve even more tennis/pickleball players from the region.