Updated: Friday, 19 Oct 2012, 10:48 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 19 Oct 2012, 10:48 PM EDT
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Folks are gathering at a 24-hour paddle tennis event in Fairfield to help raise money for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.
Paddle tennis uses a smaller court and is heated, so they can play even in the worst weather. There's paddles instead of racquets and you can play it off the screens.
"It's something really intense, that everybody that's watching this will say, this guy's a nut, but those that play paddle will understand exactly what I'm talking about. It's part of your heart, it's part of your soul, it's part of your spirit," Joe Murphy from Fairfield said.
Tonight at the Patterson Club in Fairfield, they're channeling their passion for the game to help others.
"We brought it up one day, you know, after we'd finished the game and we both said, let's do it," Dave Amendola of Fairfield said.
Paddle for Hunger from 6:00 Friday night all the way 'til 6:00 Saturday night. They've got the grill going, keeping the troops well fed so they can all keep on playing. Even the kids are helping out.
In fact, 150 people have signed up, including a few intrepid souls who took the shifts into the wee hours.
"It ends up being probably the most important time because without people playing at 2-4 a.m., the whole 24-hour marathon doesn't quite get there," Amendola said.
Their goal is to raise $50,000 and every bit of it will go to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.
"The economy has hurt everyone but certainly the poor and the near-poor are suffering significantly," Rev. Terry Wilcox, from the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, said.
Their soup kitchen and food pantry are busy year-round, but this is really their worst season. Last Thanksgiving the Rescue Mission served 2,500 families and gave away 15,000 coats. The need is getting worse.
"Four years ago, we were giving away about 210,000 meals a year and last year 620,000, so that gives you an idea of the growth," Rev. Wilcox said.
So swinging the paddle on a rainy night, even well into the night, is not just good exercise, it's an important contribution and so very appreciated.
"We're happy to do it and say our rallying cry here is paddle on!" Murphy said.
To make a donation, visit www.bridgeportrescuemission.org