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Cavanuagh ping-pong tournament supports Haiti relief

KIRSTEN DURBIN | Friday, February 19, 2010

The women of Cavanaugh Hall held a unique event last Saturday when they hosting their a ping-pong tournament to raise funds for the relief efforts in Haiti.

The idea of a ping-pong tournament surfaced when Liz Young and Lindsey McAlarnen, juniors and Cavanaugh service commissioners, were brainstorming ideas for a hall fundraiser for Haiti.

“Our rector came up with the idea awhile ago as a fundraiser for Cuba, which is where her family is from,” Young said. “She let us use the idea to support Haiti, but from now on the tournament will be our signature event supporting Cuba.”

The event raised $650 overall, a figure that includes the sale of T-shirts, baked goods and raffle tickets. Prizes included Chipotle and Starbucks gift cards and a soccer ball signed by the men’s soccer team.

Most of the funds raised at the tournament will go to a group of 16 South Bend physicians who journeyed to Haiti for ten days to provide sterile supplies, tools and equipment to a hospital in the recovering nation. Four of the group members are physicians for the Notre Dame athletic teams, and their involvement in the trip provided a way for funds raised to go directly to Haiti.

“Lindsey [McAlarnen] is a student athletic trainer, so she found out about the physician group from the team doctors,” Young said. “The group was very appreciative of our donation because the Notre Dame community hadn’t reached out to them yet.”

The remainder of the funds raised will support a Haitian orphanage.

The tournament was comprised of three separate brackets: women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles. In addition, the prize for bracket winners was a ping-pong paddle signed by former University President Fr. Hesburgh.

However, each participating team was required to include at least one Cavanaugh resident.

“It was the first time we had the tournament and we were unsure about the turnout, so we wanted to keep it contained to Cavanaugh,” Young said.

Taking the top prize in women’s singles was senior Colleen Walter, while Lindsey Zimmerman and Ezinne Ndukwe, a duo of senior resident assistants, beat out the competition in women’s doubles. Cavanaugh junior Mo Mathias and her partner Ross Goetz, a junior from Zahm, prevailed in mixed doubles.

“The tournament was a really fun and creative way to raise money for Haiti,” Walter said. “I was impressed by the number of good ping-pong players in Cavanaugh, but it was also exciting to win such a great prize.”

Mathias said the tournament featured a high level of competition.

“Winning our bracket was tough,” Mathias said. “The second game was really close, so it was a relief when we pulled through to win it, and I got to hold the Fr. Hesburgh signed paddle.”

In addition to the three main brackets, the tournament also included celebrity exhibition matches featuring several priests, the men’s soccer coach, Finance Professor Carl Ackermann and student body president and vice president Grant Schmidt and Cynthia Weber.

Although the event attracted several competitive players, a few participants took the tournament a little less seriously.

“There were some intense people who brought their own paddles,” Young said. “Other people dressed up in neon outfits with crazy makeup.”

However, the overall consensus was that the event was a great success.

“The tournament was really fun. The games were fun, the music was great, and the baked goods were delicious,” Mathias said. “It should definitely happen again next year.”