Pickleball Points: Never give up, and. help fill the cup

I asked Dr. Sue Rattner (retired) to help me write this week’s article because both of us are examples of why you never should give up. Sue was one of the participating cancer survivors in our Cardiac vs. Cancer Pickleball Challenge. She didn’t give up, and this year she spent the Fourth of July week with her grandkids. Sound simple?

Well, it would not have been simple if multiple sclerosis (MS) had taken control of her body. In 1999, she was diagnosed with MS and started undergoing all the typical therapies until she realized that exercise was her best bet to combat fatigue. She worked it, and she worked it hard. She gradually regained her mobility, balance and strength. For her, pickleball made the difference.

In my case, I just spent a wonderful week with my teenage grandkids while their parents traveled to Ireland to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Besides playing all the racket sports, I also worked out religiously all of my life, always trying to stay within several weeks of peak physical performance. My job required serious international travel, and fitness made travel easier.

But a little more than a decade ago, I was diagnosed with an exotic autoimmune disorder likely picked up at the National Senior Tennis Championships. My seriously painful legs were swollen to the size of my waist, and I could not lift my legs across a crack in the sidewalk. I couldn’t do anything but languish in bed until a tennis-playing doctor friend insisted I go to the hospital, where they tested me and tried some meds.

Like Sue, I discovered I responded best to heavy exercise. For a decade I have trained to build strength despite setbacks in my joints, no doubt resulting from Mr. Auto Immune. But it wasn’t until I discovered pickleball that I advanced the most and finally threw away my cane. I have even added qigong to my weekly routine. The point is I didn’t give up.

Go ahead, bite the pickle and tell yourself you are going to exercise and get fit before 2020 arrives. The rule of thumb is probably that you need to exercise more than your body is telling you it wants to, but less than the brain remembers that you did when you were younger.

And Sue pays back. Five years ago, Sue also became involved in the MS Bike to the Bay fundraiser by organizing a team, Breakwater Bound, to raise money not only for research but help people suffering from MS have better access to care. Last year, the ride raised more than $600,000.

Sue felt proud being part of the recent Cardiac vs. Cancer Challenge and raising $2,000 dollars for Beebe. So, for Sue, it seemed a natural progression to use pickleball to help raise funds to combat MS, which affects hundreds of thousands of others. But, like me, she found the exertion of pickleball, as well as the laughter and social interaction, a vehicle to stay ahead of the destructive aspects of the attack on our bodies.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Sue and her pickleball friends have organized a fundraiser Round Robin at Northside Park in Ocean City, Md., to raise money to help fight MS. Please join her and her friends to enjoy the fellowship and help raise money for this great cause. …I didn’t hear you. Are you going to participate? Yes is the operative word!

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.


By Vaughn Baker

Special to the Coastal Point