A local group has met its $39,000 goal to raise money and boost what is called the fastest growing sport in America in Wayne County.

Pickleball courts will be added in Clear Creek Park in Richmond to make the community competitive with larger communities.

The sport first became popular with seniors, but many communities are now seeing exponential growth in its popularity among those in their 30s and 40s, according to committee members.

They are raising money with the goal of improving the area’s quality of place in attracting and keeping good employees, both for health benefits and enhanced social opportunities through league play that attract visiting teams who spend money in the communities they visit.

Local enthusiasts say pickleball can be quickly learned and played at all ages and abilities, and provides a safe way for older residents to stay active. Clinics can be provided for business owners to introduce their employees to the sport.

The project will cost $78,000 for court surfaces, fending and netting. The group had to raise $39,000 by Nov. 30 to qualify for a matching grant of the same amount from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Clear Creek has seen other recent improvements including a new basketball court, a sensory playground and new restrooms. Two old and unusable tennis courts would be replaced with eight pickleball courts.

Organizers say local middle and high schools have a pickleball unit built into their physical education curriculum, but they have no place to play outside their class. They also plan to offer training to local teachers at Seton and Richmond Friends School and Earlham College so they can train their students, and provide a bin of paddles and balls that can be used by those who don’t own their own equipment.

Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce is collecting all tax-deductible gifts for the project through its Chamber Center for Excellence. Checks may be delivered to the chamber’s office at 33 S. Seventh St., Richmond, with a memo indicating they are for the Pickleball Project.

Donations may also be made online at https://www.patronicity.com/project/pickleball_project__clear_creek_park__richmond#!/

Committee members are Greg Hilligoss, president; Sue Miller, vice president; Tom Dickman, treasurer; Pam Hilligoss, secretary; Bruce Evans, Bruce Borton, Laara Delain, Ken Conn, Sandi Conn, Marc Miller, Dana Mollenkopf, Vivian Hankosky, Bob Hankosky, Tim McConaha, Ron Lentz, Paula Frady, Mary Walker from Wayne County Tourism, Amanda Jones from Richmond Senior Community Center and Denise Retz superintendent of Richmond Parks and Recreation Department.
Learn more by joining the Richmond Indiana Pickleball group on Facebook, or call 765-969-0801, or email Hilligosshilligoss@gmail.com or Smiller102752@gmail.com.

By Millicent Martin Emery

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