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Paddles for PADS pickleball tournament April 20 in White Rock

Fundraising event supports organization that trains, provides assistance dogs
Nathan Shipley with his companion Latte resting on the left and Serrano (a puppy in training) on the right. Standing are White Rock Pickleball Association volunteers Rebekah Tate, John Bogar and Susanne Danielsen (left to right). The WRPA is holding a Paddles for PADS tournament on Saturday, April 20, at Centennial Park in White Rock.(Contributed photo)

Some local athletes are warming up their pickleball paddles for a great cause.

The White Rock Pickleball Association is preparing for its Paddles for PADS tournament, to be held in co-ordination with Pickleball BC on Saturday, April 20 at Centennial Park.

More than 20 pickleball groups across B.C. are participating in the fundraising event in support of PADS (Pacific Assistance Dog Society), which trains and provides dogs for the visually impaired as well as for other important community work.

“Our local pickleball community is over 400 members strong and we decided to use the Paddles for PADS event as our spring fun tournament to launch into the busy summer season,” said John Bogar, one of the tournament’s organizers, in an email.

“We have awesome volunteers who have stepped forward to work on this, and we expect to have loads of fun as well as raise money for PADS… 100 per cent of the money raised locally by our community will go to PADS.”

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Rebekah Tate, another event organizer, shared how the daughter of one of the tournament volunteers has been training PADS dogs for several years – a connection they only realized when planning the event.

“It’s truly rewarding to support this great cause,” Tate said, and explained that, to better understand PADS, they organized meeting with Nathan Shipley, whose companion dog, Latte, helps him in his everyday life, as well as Jill Kaczar, a PADS dog trainer, who joined then with her present student, Pepa.

Shipley, who is very fond of Latte, shared how grateful he is for his companion.

“Latte is an important part of my life and has been with me for almost five years. He is gentle, patient and around 24/7 and can do stuff like open doors or help me carry things,” he said.

A volunteer speaker for PADS, Shipley does presentations for nurses, public groups and other organizations as well.

Kaczur, who has trained eight dogs over the years as a PADS volunteer, expanded on how the puppies are placed.

“After the puppies receive basic training, I take over as they move into the Puppy University Advanced Program. Depending on the puppy’s temperament and skills, it could be assigned to work in one of four areas,” she said.

“Most people know about our mobility dogs, which work with the visually impaired. PADS also provides support dogs for first responders suffering from PTSD, to victim services as well as hearing dogs.”

Her last student pup, named Serrano, was assigned to work with RCMP in Powell River in victim services after graduation, she noted.

“PADS always needs more volunteers, so people should get in touch if they are interested in helping out,” Kaczur said.

All are welcome to come out to Centennial Park on April 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to watch the pickleball tournament and meet Latte, Pepa and possibly some of their PADS cousins (human spectators are welcome but people are requested to not bring their own dogs).

Anyone wishing to contribute to PADS can do so in person on the day of the tournament or by e-transfer to (WRPA is a registered organization under the BC Societies Act).