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La Pine high schooler organizes successful ‘Pickleball for Patriots’ fundraiser for veterans

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- La Pine Parks and Rec held a pickleball tournament last weekend, raising money for veterans.

Last year, 17-year-old Keaton Kalmbach had a vision to put together a pickleball tournament while helping a good cause.

This year, it not only went smoothly, but he raised well more than his goal.

Kalmbach, a La Pine High School junior, is the head organizer of the first ever Pickleball for Patriots event.

All of the money raised from his 64-person pickleball tournament went to Central Oregon Veterans Outreach.

“Our goal was $5,000, but ended up raising $6,258 to help veterans in need,” Kalmbach said. 

The teen was inspired to help others from his family’s mission trips to other countries.

“I've been outside the US multiple times, and I realize how fortunate we are as Americans to live in this beautiful state and beautiful nation,” Kalmbach said. 

A year ago, he came up with a plan and presented it to his mom, Michelle Kalmbach, the communications director for La Pine Park and Rec.

“I thought he was crazy,” Michelle Kalmbach said with a laugh. “His dad was all for it, and Keaton was passionate about it -- and he did not take enough for an answer. So I was on board and ready to support, and I’m glad I did.”

She touched on what it meant to see her son organize everything and see it come to fruition. 

“Oh, we were so proud, and it's just a humbling experience to see him grow,” Michelle Kalmbach said. “The overwhelming support from this community -- sponsors, partners, has been just very humbling.”

The event did so well and was so much fun, he's already been asked to make it an annual event.

“I don’t think he has a choice," his mom said. "He's gotten so much positive feedback, they just want to do it again, so we're ready."

Kalmbach and his family want to thank all those who played and who donated.

He said without the support of local businesses and their donations, the event could not have happened.

“With this great La Pine community we can do great things,” Kalmbach said. “Even though we’re such a small city we accomplish so much to help these veterans that need our help.”

Article Topic Follows: Sports

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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