Ping Pong on the Plaza raises $95,000 for nonprofits

Ping Pong on the Plaza
Photos from Ping Pong on the Plaza by McKenzie Kielman for the DCPA NewsCenter. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

By McKenzie Kielman

For the DCPA NewsCenter

Those passing by Union Station on Sept. 14 might have spotted Denver Broncos’ mascot Miles roaming the Great Hall, or Willy Wonka and his oompa-loompas hanging outside the Milkbox Ice Creamery.

They were among 300 competitors who spent the afternoon delivering backhanded topspin smashes in the third annual Ping Pong on the Plaza, which brought in a record $95,000 to support the IMA Foundation. That’s the charitable wing of the IMA Financial Group, which exists to advance youth, support educational institutions and improve the quality of life in Denver by supporting the arts.

The Foundation is responsible for 50 grants in the Denver area, and many of the participating Ping Pong teams represented local nonprofits that benefit from the foundation, including the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

“The IMA Foundation provides grant funding to DCPA Education – specifically the Dramatic Learning program,” Associate Director of Development Shawn Bayer said.

The DCPA’s Dramatic Learning program is a series of workshops that take place in schools throughout Denver. These workshops incorporate fun performance elements such as hip-hop in classroom exercises to stimulate comprehension and retention of financial literacy, which is one of IMA’s core focuses.

The Dramatic Learning program reached 12,355 children in 124 schools through 259 events or workshops in the 2014-15 school year. Dramatic Learning is the DCPA’s second-biggest school program, behind student matinees.

One of the more exciting matches of the afternoon was an exhibition between Broncos mascot Miles and Colorado Avalanche mascot Bernie. Bragging rights went home with Miles to Mile High Stadium.

Ping Pong on the PlazaDCPA team members included Joe Schurwonn, Nathan Brunetti, Julie Schumaker, Brian Carter, Nicholas Renaud, Shawn Bayer, Melissa Olson, Carolyn Michaels and Adam Obendorf. They represent the varied departments of marketing, human relations, design, development, creative services and group sales. The team made it through three rounds before being eliminated by Haselden Construction. But Michaels said winning wasn’t the point.

“It was fun to get to know co-workers you might not otherwise interact with, and it is really fun to get to know their competitive side,” Michaels said.

Obendorf was so inspired by his taste of Ping Pong warfare, he has since organized a tournament among members of the DCPA Marketing staff that he hopes will continue team-building within the department.

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