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Pickleball for Parkinson's unite Abilene community

Over 80 players competed in the first annual Dr. John C. Stevens Pickleball for Parkinson’s Tournament.

On Saturday, Abilene Christian University pickleball club partnered with nonprofits to host the first Dr. John C. Stevens Pickleball for Parkinson’s Tournament and Resource Fair.

30 pickleball teams hit the court to compete, while also raising awareness for people who may have Parkinson’s disease. Executive Director of the Davis Phinney Foundation Polly Dawkins, believes early detection greatly impacts the quality of life.

“The sooner people can find out one they have Parkinson's and two, that there are things they can do, like exercise, like seeing the right providers, clinicians and all they can improve their quality of life. That's what we do as a national organization, but it takes local individuals and local communities to come together to make this kind of work happen,” said Dawkins.

Four years ago, you could count on one hand the number of players in attendance at the tournament but this year more than 80 players participated. Wayne Frazier, a former racquetball player says he was introduced to the sport back in 2015.

“An old buddy of mine and I used to play racquetball together. He started playing pickleball before me. They said, come on out and I said I don’t want to play pickleball. They finally talked me into coming out and I've been doing it ever since and I enjoy it,” said Frazier. 

The event united many people of different age groups. Frazier was the oldest at 83 and the youngest was Abilene High School freshman tennis player Syler Richardson. Richardson thinks pickleball is a sport that brings joy to many people.

“It’s a fun thing to do with friends on the weekends and you can get better really fast or just have fun,” Richardson said. 

The goal of the event was to spread awareness, empathy, and education. All of the proceeds raised will help the local chapter of the Davis Phinney Foundation.

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