The Evansville Fire Department battled two immense warehouse blazes in 2022, helping shield residences and business structures around Oct. 17’s Morton Avenue fire and Dec.31’s North Garvin Street inferno. Now, two neighboring businesses are showing their appreciation.
The idea originated with Brock Lance, vice president of sales and business development at Evansville Garage Doors, who saw firefighters playing pickleball at a local firehouse. Mike Larson, EFD’s Division Chief, says pickleball is popular among the crew, who organize a bracketed tournament at Escalade Sports called The Golden Paddle each November.
Evansville Garage Doors replaced its roof and repaired smoke damage from the Morton Avenue fire, but the around 60,000-square-foot building was saved, thanks in no small part to first responders’ efforts.
“They didn’t sit around. They told us, ‘This is just as much our building as it is yours,’” he says.
Lance suggested a donation of pickleball equipment to Evansville Garage Doors President Jeff Rothschild, who agreed. He then reached out to Emily Patton, brand manager at Escalade Sports, whose 330,000-square-foot headquarters sat on the edge of the North Garvin Street fire.
“We thought it was a great idea and wanted to help,” Patton says.
Seventy paddles, 14 portable nets, and 14 packs of six balls from ONIX Pickleball, whose parent company is Escalade Sports, were donated. Larson says the equipment donation was appreciated and immediately put in play.
“The first day the firemen got the equipment, they were using it,” he says.