On an otherwise lazy Saturday this past August, more than 150 teenage players from the Z Badminton Training Center in Union City battled it out to determine singles and doubles winners in 10 different tournament flights.
But the real winner of the August 20 event was ... the American Red Cross.
That's because the six youth players who organized the tournament decided in advance that all proceeds from the day would benefit a single non-profit, the Red Cross. "When we were searching for charities, we came across many wonderful organizations," says Vanessa Yang, a 15-year-old from Irvington High School. "But Red Cross stood out the most."
"Every team member had heard of the American Red Cross and how the organization helps people in crisis all over the world," Yang says. "Our team decided that we wanted to help make an impact on the world, and that's what Red Cross does everyday."
Yang was joined on the tournament planning committee by Ivy Xie, 17, Kennedy High; Chris Ho, 15, Washington High; Tony Liuzhou, 14, James Logan High; Jerry Ju, 16, Amador Valley High; and Ricky Liu, 16, Irvington High.
Yang and other members of the team made good on their goal of using their favorite sport to raise money for their favorite charity.
"They called us at the Silicon Valley Chapter, and then came to the office one day to present [Interim Chapter CEO] Dawn Angelo and me with a check for more than $2,000," says Muhi Khwaja, who works out of the chapter as a major gift officer for the Red Cross's Northern California Coastal Region.
To be precise, the check the badminton "team" presented to the Red Cross was for $2,009.75, and Khwaja says team members designated it for Red Cross disaster relief.
Gifts made to that all-important fund help the Red Cross provide critical support to people affected by disasters — large and small — throughout the country. "We are very appreciative that they bestowed such generosity on the Red Cross," Khwaja says.
The fact that the players' efforts are helping support Red Cross disaster relief isn't the only aspect of their donation that touched Khwaja. "To see that these students, at their age, already have such a passion for doing the right thing through philanthropy is pretty heartwarming," he says.
Caption: The Red Cross's Dawn Angelo, left, and Muhi Khwaja, right, welcome members of the tournament planning team to the Silicon Valley Chapter offices.