Professional volleyball player Ryan Mariano and Lauren Todd, a former All-American Stanford golfer, created their nonprofit Athlete’s Promise back in 2010 to combat hunger in the U.S. They hold various fundraising events throughout the year, but for the people of Huntington Beach, Calif., there isn’t much doubt that their favorite way to fight hunger is through playing in the annual Athlete’s Promise Pro-Am Tournament.
Athlete’s Promise adopted the tournament three years ago, but Mariano has been running it for eight years now. For those unfamiliar with the pro-am tournament format, it means that one professional player (defined in this case as someone within the top 80 USAV beach ranking in 2012) partners with an amateur player and competes against other professional-amateur teams. This year there were 46 men’s teams and 21 women’s teams.
In the women’s division, Lisa Rutledge was the winning female pro with partner Terri Del Conte, a 26-year-old California personal trainer and former Missouri State libero. For the men, pro Casey Patterson and partner Mike Nelson took first place. Nelson is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor and has played on the AVP and the NVL.
Mariano and Todd focused on promoting volunteerism at the tournament, aiming to make volunteering a habit for more people. According to its website, Athlete’s Promise has built 6,750 food boxes and donated 55,583 meals since its founding.
Originally published in May 2013