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Dodgers pitching ace Clayton Kershaw is used to dominating on the mound, but it’s been a few years since he’s won his own annual ping-pong tournament. Kershaw’s wife, Ellen, told reporters that she bought her husband a ping-pong serving machine ahead of Thursday night’s tournament to help him prepare for the match.
“I got him a machine that just spits them out and even does like a curve to them so we’ve got a whole system going,” she said.
The Kershaws were joined by Brad Paisley and wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Bryan Cranston, Jaleel White and several of his teammates on the field at Dodger Stadium for his 7th Annual Ping Pong 4 a Purpose, a charity that makes grants to a number of organizations, including one that rescues girls who have been sex trafficked in the Dominican Republic.
Cranston served as this year’s MC and spoke with THR about why he felt this was an important cause for him to support. “What they’re doing is literally saving little girls’ lives. Each time there’s $6,300 donated to the Kershaw Challenge, that saves one child’s life from the sex slave business,” he said. “So if you’re fortunate to have healthy children, a good life, it’s incumbent upon us to be able to say ‘we can’t turn our backs on this’”
Cranston lived up to his words when he donated $6,300 to help rescue a child and encouraged others to do the same during his opening remarks. He also announced that in its entire existence, the tournament has raised over $7.5 million for various charities and organizations.
Brad and Kimberly Williams-Paisley were honored with the Kershaw Impact Challenge award and Brad told THR why they were happy to be a part of this year’s challenge. “What Clayton and Ellen Kershaw do for others is one of the most crazy and inspiring things I’ve ever seen. No one does more with their good fortune and with their spare time to make the world a better place than those two and they’re our inspiration as a couple on how to be the best you can be at that.”
The tournament itself is more like a summer picnic than a typical fundraiser. Guests could dig into burgers from HiHo Cheeseburger, enjoy soft-serve ice cream and of course eat as many Dodger Dogs as they could possibly want.
There was also a kids station sponsored by Mattel that featured pop-a-shot games, free Barbie dolls and a realistic racing video game complete with a steering wheel and a gas pedal.
Clayton spoke to THR about how he and Ellen selected the different charities that would benefit from their tournament. “The biggest prerequisite is just kids in need. That’s our goal. To help kids that might not have an opportunity, that might be down on their luck or whatever it may be, we just want to give them an opportunity and that’s what this event does. There’s a lot of great things going on, we get to hang out, we get to play ping pong but we’re raising money for kids and that’s really all this event is.”
The money raised from this year’s tournament was given to organizations that help troubled children in Los Angeles and abroad, including the Dream Center, the Just Keep Livin Foundation, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, International Justice Mission, Both Ends Believing and Arise Africa.
This year’s tournament, which raised a total of $800,000, was fiercely contested but Kershaw’s time with the serving machine paid off when he and his teammate, Dodgers MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, won the finals and finally hoisted the ping-pong championship trophy once again.
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