Pickleball Tournament to Benefit Donor Foundation

Published in the Signal News, Santa Clarita

Friendship, pickleball and paying it forward will be the main focus of Dink for Cause, a pickleball tournament scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

Monica Hicks and Mitra Sushinsky, co-founders of Dink for Cause, welcome all to the inaugural charity event at the Paseo Club in Valencia. According to Hicks, the tournament is almost sold out and approximately 140 Santa Clarita Valley residents will compete.

In addition to the tournament, there will also be items for raffles, a food truck and music. The event is scheduled to run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days, and Be The Match will also be in attendance on Saturday.

Be the Match is a foundation that connects patients, in need of bone marrow or umbilical cord blood to help save or extend lives, to donors.

Hicks, a member of Be The Match board of ambassadors, said she will co-organize the pickleball tournament in honor of her husband Leo, who died of AML, an aggressive form of leukemia.

In July 2017, Leo was diagnosed with AML. Leo’s only chance of survival would be through a bone marrow or stem cell donation, Hicks wrote in an email.

Leo’s leukemia was not cured, but he and his family were gifted an additional year after his stem cell donation via Be The Match.

Hicks and Sushinksy, who met through pickleball and are pickleball partners, hope to bring awareness to Be The Match, raise funds for the foundation and sign new donors to the Be The Match bone marrow registry.

Attendees interested in signing on to the registry must be between the ages of 18 and 40, get a simple cheek swab at the Be The Match donor van and sign up.

“If anyone would like to make a monetary donation, we’d gladly except it, but it is not necessary,” Hicks wrote in an email. “We’d love for people to just come out and have a good time.”