Badminton is a fairly whimsical game to begin with, but combine it with costumes and a good cause and you have Madminton.
What’s believed to be Kansas City’s first badminton tournament for charity played out on Sunday in Theis Park with the shuttlecock sculptures on the lawn of the Netson-Atkins Museum of Art in the background.
“We love playing badminton and we love costume parties, so we put it together and got Madminton,” said tournament founder Ethan Whitehill. “We thought it would be even more fun if we did it for a good cause.”
Organizers raised $67,000 from sponsors of 27 courts for two-on-two tournament play before elimination rounds. Their goal had been $50,000, but on Sunday they were optimistic about getting closer to $75,000.
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The beneficiary was an organization called Giving the Basics, which distributes free soap, toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper and other such items.
“We’re a nonprofit charity that supplies free personal-care hygiene items to over 50 shelters and pantries and over 117 low-income schools,” said Michele Orpin, director of operations for the group.
Giving the Basics has been in operation for three years but has not had a signature fundraising event until now.
“They’re a terrific organization so we thought this would be a good opportunity to get something kick-started for them,” said Whitehill, who is chief executive officer of Two West, a retail design and marketing firm.
Many of the roughly 75 badminton teams in the tournament wore creative costumes, from Monty Python-esque knights to tutus to purple hair and green capes. The teams also registered creative names, such as Giving You the Birdie, Cocktail Time, Shuttlecock Jocks and Feather Sticks.
There was also live music and a beer garden in the park.
“To our knowledge, the half badminton party, half costume party is a new thing,” said Whitehall. “We hope for it to be a tradition.”