Here it is – Part Two of a Pickleball Ministry. Pickleball addict and traveler – Bill Ritchie of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin shares his story… (Here is Part One published in December in case you missed it)
“Part 2 of the story for the Pickleball donations for Bill Fallos and the homeless Pickleball ministry.
We’ll start with a little history about Bill Fallos.
A couple of years ago Bill Fallos was released from jail here in Wisconsin. He was picked up by Lou & Vickie Chudy who were friends of his. They took him in and like they do with so many others, helped him find a place to live, food to eat and a job. Bill was formerly a homeless guy himself who completely turned his life around with help from his friends (like the Chudy’s) and the local church. He became an inspiration to so many other people during his transformation and probably most importantly to his homeless buddies. Not only is the success rate for this type of change very small, but having Bill develop a heart and passion for other homeless men and women makes his story extremely unique.
It was approximately two years ago that I was introduced to Bill F. via Mark Raether. Mark R. and I gave Bill a chance to join our crew on a local project. Turns out he was a fantastic worker and an excellent addition to our crew. We decided to give him as much work as we could provide him. During our road trips and flights to different project sites, he would hear Mark R. and I go on and on about Pickleball and how much fun it was and how addicting it was. That peaked his curiosity and he expressed some interest in wanting to try pickleball. So, we introduced him to it in the Spring of 2014. He was immediately “addicted”. Bill enjoyed playing so much that he started talking about pickleball with the homeless men he was in contact with. He also mentioned it to Lou Chudy who was immediately attracted to the game as well. Then Bill started bringing his homeless buddies with him to play and that was when this Pickleball Ministry was born. At first, there weren’t enough paddles to go around, so some of us “seasoned” players loaned out our backup paddles. Then there weren’t enough loaner paddles to go around. These homeless men spend many hours walking the streets and the chances of getting in trouble are very high. That’s when Mark and I knew we had to find a way to help Bill with the resources he needed to keep these guys off the streets and on the courts.
As many of you remember I put the call out to the Pickleball Nation back in Dec 2014 and wow, did the Pickleball Nation rise to the occasion!
The following equipment was donated:
2 dozen outdoor balls
1 Pickle-ball standards portable net
Many of the members from the Waukesha pickleball group were able to present the equipment to Bill this last Monday evening during our pickleball session. He was completely surprised and the donated paddles, balls and net were a great encouragement to Bill to continue introducing homeless men and women to this wonderful game. This is just the beginning to help keep Bill’s vision of a Pickleball Ministry alive and to help these guys “trade one addiction in for another”!
Now, this is all great news and we are all excited for where this Pickleball Ministry is headed, however, we hope that is not the end of the story. There is a fantastic opportunity in Waukesha, WI to purchase an old private grade school w/gym and transform it into a ministry center for the homeless. This will be in addition to the Salvation Army Shelter in the area. Lou Chudy is graciously taking the lead on this endeavor and if purchased, this grade school has a gym that will be converted with two or three pickleball courts and classrooms that would be converted to rooms to facilitate these homeless men and women. It’s such a blessing to see pickleball being used for such a worthy cause! We hope to bring you a Part three to this story in the near future.
Here is a list of those who have contributed thus far to this wonderful cause with their selfless donations.
Neil Friedenberg (PRO-LITE SPORTS)
Rodney Grubbs (Pickleball Rocks)
Shirley Johnson Brown
Members of the Waukesha WI Pickleball Club“
Isn’t that a good story! To help and find out more information email Bill at: mrsuperman00@msn dot com.
Yes, that email says Mr. Superman 00 (with two zeros) – quite an appropriate email Bill!
Help the homeless with pickleball. Pay it Forward via pickleball!