Thursday, 20 June 2013

Have You Ever Been to Paddle Royale? Big Brothers and Sisters Toronto 2012 Inaugural Event!

Accompanied by the Men's Final Gold Medal Game at the 2012 Olympics! Just to learn some tips ;)
Hey All!!!

This was an article I wrote for the Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto inaugural event last year called Paddle Royale. It didn't end up getting published in the magazine for one reason or another so I thought I would put it on my blog as the second annual Paddle Royale is coming up August 22, 2013!! Team registrations are filling up so if you're interested in attending this super fun event, get on it! See link below :)

On September 13th, 2012, the Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto (BBBST) Young Leader’s (YL) kicked off their inaugural event, Paddle Royale, at SPiN Toronto in the heart of downtown Toronto. The council, which formed this past year, is comprised of 17 dedicated young professionals between the ages of 20 and 35 who want to make a difference in the city.  Their goals are to raise awareness of the organization with hopes to “recruit new volunteers, fundraise, and spread the word of Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto”, says co-chair of the YL’s and Big Brother himself, Michael Boynton. Currently there are 250 kids on the waiting list, still needing to be matched with a big brother or sister. 

Whilst taking a year to organize, Paddle Royale, “a glow- in-the-dark (themed) ping-pong party” (combining a glow-in-the-dark party with a round-robin ping-pong tournament) came to fruition after many proposals were presented between the three different committees within the council - Events, Finance and Operations, and Communications and Media. The game of ping-pong has been making a comeback within the social scene these past few years and SPiN Toronto has become a popular spot for the young professionals to gather for a night on the town. Those factors combined created a perfect event idea to generate opportunities for networking, bring about awareness regarding the BBBST, and more importantly create the opportunity to bring teams of people together to pledge for donations.

Auction Table 
One major challenge the YL’s faced while organizing Paddle Royale was getting corporate sponsors to come on board and support the event. However, with much persistence and many cold calls later, an impressive $10,000 in sponsorships was gathered; an amazing feat for an inaugural event. Many of the sponsors are what the YL’s call “match sponsors”, a title earned by a donation of $1,500 that essentially covers the cost of pairing a Big Brother/Sister with a Little Brother/Sister. Sponsors also had the option of being a “table sponsor” which allowed the sponsors to put their own ads on the tables, have their own ping-pong table for the night, and have three teams automatically entered into the tournament.

The ladies talk strategy
As the sounds of music from music sponsor Kiss 92.5 and DJ Rouge filled the air, some of the expected 400 guests excitedly started to filter into the large venue. Ping-pong tables sprawled out between two large main rooms, dotted with vases of bright orange ping-pong balls, racquets, and colourful balloons. The registration team handed out glow-in-the-dark bracelets upon entry, which quickly became a favourite accessory amongst the guest’s attire that night.  Sixty-four teams registered to play in the round-robin tournament (which is maximum capacity able to register), bedecked in creative costumes with hopes of winning the “best-dressed” title.  Participants also received a Paddle Royale t-shirt donated by Me to We Style, which is a nice souvenir to take home. For those thirsty competitors, beer sponsor Steam Whistle Brewery provided a complimentary beverage, while liquor sponsor Three Olives Vodka provided some tasty cocktails for guests who just wanted to observe the action. SPiN conjured up an amazing menu for some much needed fuel, which included such treats as brown sugar bacon lollipops, Ontario lamb shoulder sloppy Joes, vegan tacos and the traditional favourite, grilled cheese. Nestled to the left of the action was a large room filled with raffle prizes (all generously donated) adding up to a remarkable $15,000 in value. The most coveted prize of the night was a trip for two to Waikiki donated kindly by Trump Hotels and WestJet, valued at $7,700 dollars. Additional raffle prizes included such things as a Blue Jays Box night which included free food and a box for 12 people, Xbox 360s, an autographed Doug Gilmour jersey and hotel stays at the Mariott, Delta, and Sheraton. A ping-pong table was donated by SPiN for the winners of the tournament which was valued at $3,000. After the final ball was hit, lights were dimmed, the black lights came on, and the glow-in-the-dark party really started. Guests grooved to the sounds of well-known DJs, DJ McKnight and DJ Emperor (from and there was free table play for any guests wanting to let out their excess energy.

To market this wonderful event, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter were “most effective in spreading the word”, states Boynton.  A website was created, which allowed participants to register for the event and find out additional information about Paddle Royale. Local television station CP24 mentioned the event on their program, while the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) filmed the pop-up ping-pong party that was held outside in front of SPiN weeks before the event to generate hype. Posters were put up in condo buildings and coffee shops as well.

In all, teams alone raised over $30,000 and with sponsorship's of $10,000 and money raised throughout the night, contributions amassed to over $50,000. Being a first year event, Paddle Royale can only get bigger and better from here.  If you’d like to learn more about Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto please visit their webpage at For more information about Paddle Royale please go to


SPiN Toronto:
Three Olives:
Steam Whistle Brewery:
Kiss 92.5:
Me to We Style:
Trump Hotels:

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