Serving charity: Darrin Eakins takes the court for more than just pickleball

Darrin Eakins knows that pickleball is more than just a game.

And he isn’t alone. In 2021, nearly five million people played. In the same report released by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball experienced more than 39% growth over the last two years, making it the nation’s fastest-growing sport. For those who have tried it, it’s a low-pressure, easily-accessible activity for all ages. The competition and camaraderie instantly hook participants.

In fact, this is why Darrin Eakins picked up a paddle in the first place. The Wilmington, NC, resident survived a debilitating mountain biking accident that left him disabled in both his wrist and shoulder. Pickleball allowed him to continue to stay active despite these mobility issues. But pickleball hasn’t just helped him physically. The sport produces a host of mental and emotional boosts as well. Stepping onto the court is social. Chatting and laughing with friends while playing are commonplace.

For this reason, pickleball is personal. But it also allows Darrin Eakins to serve another purpose. This fall, he plans to play some pickleball tournaments that support local charities. Call it being competitive for a cause.

Each event is an opportunity for the retired orthopedic surgeon to have some fun while doing some serious good.

Pickle and Pig Pickleball Tournament

This inaugural event provides plenty to squeal about. Held at Regional Park in nearby Castle Hayne, Pickle and Pig grills up an entire weekend of good vibes and even better food. It starts with a welcome event and cookout. And then the weekend is capped off with an afternoon barbecue on Sunday.

Yet the real heat is being dished out on the court. The three-day tournament features singles and mixed doubles play. Winners will be recognized in a presentation the following day.

But, in reality, the paddles still take a backseat to full plates. This debut event is devoted to feeding those in need. Proceeds from Pickle and Pig go to NourishNC. This nonprofit organization provides meals for hungry children in New Hanover County.

Cape Fear Pickleball Club Fall Tournament

Don’t let the name fool you. The CFPC is neither scary nor exclusive in its mission to spread the sport across southeastern North Carolina. This outreach is headlined by its annual fall tournament.

But the group does take its pickleball seriously. This year’s tournament, which will be held in November, features twelve different categories. Each bracket is sorted by gender and experience, ranging from 2.5 up to 4.0 rankings. Participants who register will get a minimum of at least three games. All matches will be played at the Beau Rivage Golf and Resort in his hometown of Wilmington.

Still, the real victories are for the veterans. This event is a fundraiser for Disabled American Veterans. Established in 1920, DAV offers lifetime support for millions of veterans and their families. As a person with disabilities himself, Darrin Eakins is especially eager to help with this initiative.

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