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Lady Sienna Pickleball Classic in Hampden raises money for a good cause

The weekend-long event helped raise money for the Lint Rollers and Lemonade Foundation.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Pickleball is a niche sport that some people may not have heard of, but it seems to be growing in popularity throughout Maine. On Saturday, March 5, the sport brought dozens of people together at the Armstrong Tennis Center in Hampden for a special cause. 

Among the pickleball players at the first annual Lady Sienna Pickleball Classic was Brian White. He came to the tournament dressed in memories.

"This shirt is all pictures of my niece, along with myself and everybody in the family," White said. 

Four years ago, White's niece, Sienna White Probert, died from childhood cancer at 17 years old. Sienna attended Hampden Academy and was a musician, a lover of the outdoors, and a pickleball player.

"We have close to 100 players, which is really good for an inaugural event. [It's] probably the largest pickleball event that we've had here so far," said Lisa Pacic, director of pickleball for the Armstrong Tennis Center.

"[We] just thought it would be a good tribute to [Sienna] to remember her in all these different ways," White said.

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Before she died, Sienna said being remembered was important to her.

"That was one of the things that she was concerned about — was that people would forget her," Martha Ward, one of the event's organizers, said. 

Ward also works with the Lint Rollers and Lemonade Foundation. The foundation started as a blog that Sienna made with her mother, Cheryl, as she went through her journey with cancer. 

"When Sienna was going through her cancer treatment she needed a lint roller to roll the hair off of her head, as she was losing her hair," Ward said.

Ward said the lemonade "is something that when [Sienna] was going through chemotherapy that a lot of cancer patients enjoy."

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Now, the nonprofit raises money at events to provide support to children going through serious medical issues and their families. That money helps provide things as simple as an iPad for kids to watch movies while they're in the hospital.

"There were times where the staff at the hospital would actually raise money themselves. We want to be the group that does that," Ward said.

Along with fundraising, the nonprofit also features a book Sienna's aunt wrote for her when she first got sick. 

"It's called, 'Bright Star'," Ward said. "This is a book about a child who is going to be leaving."

The foundation plans to give these books to families who go through the loss of a child.

"This event makes sure nobody will ever forget her," Ward said. 

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If you'd like to donate to the Lint Rollers and Lemonade foundation, click here.

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