Paradise table tennis tournament raises well over $1K for Alzheimer's research

A charity table tennis tournament in Paradise on Saturday brought together players from around Newfoundland and Labrador and raised more than $1,000 for the Alzheimer's Society of Canada.

About 50 players came together to have fun and raise money

Two men in shirts that say "TT4ever."
Jeremy Lehr, left, and Kevin Guo organized the charity tournament after meeting at the 2023 Canada Winter Games on Prince Edward Island. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

The sounds of paddles hitting balls echoed throughout the Paradise Rotary Youth Community Centre on Saturday — all in the name of raising money for Alzheimer's research.

About 50 people took part in the charity table tennis tournament, far more than the organizers initially expected when registration opened a few weeks ago.

"Which is really amazing. Our goal was 30, but we overshot it by a long way," said Kevin Guo, founder of TT4ever, a non-profit organization that promotes table tennis through lessons and tournaments.

The event was organized by the Ontario-based TT4ever and the Newfoundland and Labrador Table Tennis Association, where Jeremy Lehr is an executive.

"Between the minimum donation of $20 and some athletes actually giving back their prize money that they won and outside people donating, you know, we've definitely raised over $1,000," said Lehr, who is also the head coach of the province's table tennis team.

Lehr some donations have yet to be counted, while Guo said the money will go to the Alzheimer Society of Canada and will likely be used in research.

The tournament was open to players of all levels, said Lehr, with participants ranging from eight years old up into their 60s.

A gymnasium filled with people playing table tennis.
About 50 players participated in the charity table tennis tournament at the Paradise Rotary Youth Community Centre. (Submitted by Jeremy Lehr)

Lehr said he and Guo met at the 2023 Canada Winter Games on Prince Edward Island, where Guo was on the Ontario table tennis team and Lehr coached the team from Newfoundland and Labrador.

They connected and started chatting online, when Guo explained TT4Ever and that he'd like to host a tournament in this province, said Lehr.

"After a few months of planning, he ended up coming down and we put together this beautiful tournament," Lehr said.

Winner takes all — and gives it back

Nicholas Hiscock was the overall winner of the tournament, earning the $100 top prize — but he didn't take it home.

"I plan on giving it back. Actually, that was my plan the whole time," Hiscock said.

While he won today, he said it was tricky.

"It's incredibly stiff competition and I guess we were all trying a little bit harder to impress some of the national players that were here as well," he said.

Man in t-shirt
Nicholas Hiscock, who won the tournament, was invited to play at the tournament by Jeremy Lehr, who is his friend. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

Hiscock has been playing table tennis for 13 years and has traveled to the U.S. to participate in tournaments.

"I'm always here to have fun, but I also enjoy playing competitively as well. So I play whatever tournaments we have on the island. And sometimes once or twice a year I like to take a trip as well," he said.

He has also been a member of Team N.L. and completed at the Canada Games.

Sarah Yang moved to Newfoundland and Labrador from Ontario last year, where she played table tennis regularly. But when she arrived, she didn't know of any local groups.

Then Yang saw a Facebook post for the tournament and decided to enter. It was also her first time being able to play table tennis since moving provinces.

Looking back, she said she's happy with how she did in the tournament.

"I didn't win anything, but I did my best, so I'm glad I came. So it was good," said Yang.

The tournament in Paradise is the second of three TT4ever fundraising events across the country, said Guo. The first was in Ontario and the other will be in British Columbia in September.

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Elizabeth Whitten is a journalist and editor based in St. John's. When she’s not chasing her next story, she's cuddling with her dog and reading a good book.