Hearts and Paddles Event Raises Funds for CMU's Pulse3 Endowment

Inaugural Pickleball Tournament and Health Expo provides $20,000 for cardiovascular wellness in the region

| Author: Kelly Belcher

The Pulse3 Endowment for Community Cardiovascular Health hosted its first Hearts and Paddles Pickleball Tournament on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at Garber Courts in Saginaw.  The event was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and presented in partnership with BWell Saginaw and the Urban Racquet Sports Foundation.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to supporting healthier communities throughout Michigan and the Hearts and Paddles Pickleball Tournament aligns perfectly with that mission,” said Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for community relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Physical activity is vital to living a healthy lifestyle and this event was a great opportunity for locals of all ages to educate themselves on physical health, be active and support cardiovascular wellness programs.”

More than 85 teams participated in the tournament which had divisions for men’s, women’s and mixed doubles pairings based on skill level.  From beginners new to the game to long-time pickleball enthusiasts, the tournament was enjoyed by all the players and spectators in attendance.

"The Urban Racquet Sports Foundation thoroughly enjoyed working with the Pulse3 team and hosting the inaugural Hearts & Paddles Pickleball Tournament and the accompanying Health Fair at our Garber Courts,” stated Ken LeCureux, co-founder of the Urban Racquet Sports Foundation.  “We're looking forward to many future repeats of this wonderful community happening.  As an organization reaching urban youth with the game of tennis for 17 years, while also teaching them the importance of a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and good nutritional habits, this event helps support and promote an important element of our mission.”

In addition to the tournament, the event also featured a community health expo with 17 vendors.  Alana’s Foundation was on-site and administered over 30 flu shots to community members.  The Saginaw County Health Department was also in attendance, providing free cholesterol and diabetes screening.

“The health department was proud to be part of this event,” said Delicia Pruitt, M.D., Medical Director for Saginaw County and associate professor for the CMU College of Medicine.  “We had so many people interested in cholesterol and glucose testing that we actually ran out of supplies!  We want to encourage everyone who is thinking about exercising more to try something new, like pickleball, in order to better their health and wellness.  BWell!”

The event was a great opportunity for community members to engage in cardiovascular activity and connect with health resources in our area.  In total, it raised over $20,000 in support of cardiovascular wellness programs for the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“We are thrilled with the turnout from the community and the ultimate success of our first Hearts and Paddles pickleball tournament.  Complementing our winter Shocks and Saves Charity Hockey game with this late summer event allows us to raise funds in support of community wellness, education, and cardiovascular risk assessment programs.   Where Shocks and Saves provides focus on our response to cardiac emergencies, the aim of Hearts and Paddles is to prevent those emergencies from ever happening,” said Steve Vance, M.D., Executive Director of Pulse3 and associate dean of Clinical Education for CMU’s College of Medicine.

Dr. Vance added, “Our partners at Urban Racquet Sports Foundation and BWell Saginaw were instrumental in bringing this event to life, and the sponsorship from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was the spark that allowed us to go from idea to reality.  We are grateful for the support of our many sponsors and look forward to future collaboration in making the Great Lakes Bay Region a healthy, safe, and vibrant place to live.”

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