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Jerry Hale, Janice Dillard and Freddie Jones lead the line for the Survivors Walk at Relay for Life in 2015 at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium

Pickle for a cause

By Michael Butler

It's not Aunt Bee's famous recipe or even the green things that come in a jar at your supermarket. It's pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America.

This fairly new activity that is described by some as a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong, attracts all age groups.

"The ball is like a whiffle ball," said Tallassee Recreation Department programs director Jamelle Jelks. "It makes it easier for any age to compete."

The gym floor at the recreation center will be converted into pickleball courts this weekend with a tournament to raise dollars for the American Cancer Society.

"We play several days a week at the rec center," said Jelks, who is coordinating the tournament. "One of the guys came down with bone marrow cancer, so we decided we'd do something to bring awareness to that dreaded disease. We used to have Relay for Life. We're trying to have this pick up where that left off."

Tallassee Relay for Life was the biggest fundraiser every year generating over $2 million in its run of over two decades. The record for dollars raised in a single-year was $156,000 in 2012.

The last Relay was held in 2017. The event changed to individual fundraisers including a softball tournament and car show but has not had annual events in the post-Covid era.

The last Relay for Life was held at Tallassee City Hall in 2017

The "Smash Cancer Pickleball Tournament" will be on Saturday, June 10 beginning at 10 a.m. It will have a doubles format.

"It's smaller than a tennis court with bigger paddles than ping pong," Jelks noted. "All serving is underhanded. You can't stand at the net."

Entry fee is $25 per person.

"Either stop by the rec center of give us a call (334-283-4726), and I'll get you the information you need," said Tallassee Recreation Department Director Megan Miller. "It's a sport that anybody can get out there and play together."

Miller added that prizes would be awarded.

"I've seen people who have never played pickleball. In ten minutes, they look like they've been playing for years. It's something you can pick up quickly and have a good time."

Ready to Play!