Pickleball tournament to raise money for rare cancer research

Sue Swain plays a game of pickleball at the Steamboat Springs Tennis Center in 2020. The Tennis Center will host the Play it Forward Shootout event to raise funds for rare cancer research on Saturday, Aug. 6.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center’s Play it Forward pickleball shootout is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.

In the shootout, players will be separated into groups of four and play three, 13-minute games. They will do this three times and each time with a new partner for a total of nine games. 

The goal is to win as many games as possible and amass the most points to compete in the final round of games, which will be a seeded, best-two-out-of-three match. 

The No. 1 objective is to raise money for research for a rare cancer that affects a Steamboat man.

Rose Alford, the organizer of the event, chose to raise funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) because it has contributed to many of the most important breakthroughs in cancer research. 

“All of the money raised goes directly to MSK and immediately gets put to use, so that’s really cool too,” Alford said. 

Alford’s inspiration for the event comes from her husband, Matt, who has been battling a rare form of metastatic pancreatic cancer for nearly 10 years. He has dealt with six surgeries, four types of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, while the cancer is metastatic and repeatedly comes back. 

“We have a 15-year-old son that has known Matt more with cancer than without,” Alford said. “It’s just been rough, but he has been an inspiration to a lot of people.”

When first coming up with the idea to raise money, Alford learned that a lot of cancer research is privately funded until big enough movements are made for government funding to come in. 

She saw that as an opportunity to make a difference while also constructing an exciting community event for the people of Steamboat. 

The event was made open to 64 participants with 63 of those slots already filled as of Tuesday morning. Participants are encouraged to raise $500 or more by the start of the event while also having a great time playing and feeling amazing about the contributions they are making. 

More information and an opportunity to donate can be found at

The event also features an after party for participants that includes food, music, raffle prizes and the opportunity for Alford to speak to everyone about why raising these funds is so important. 

Alford is excited to share Matt’s story and show people that members of their own community are being affected by rare forms of cancer. 

“Our main focus from the very start was that no matter what the event was, we wanted to educate people,” Alford said.

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