Whitefish Community Foundation awarded a $20,000 Major Community Project Grant to support the construction of six pickleball courts at the Smith Fields Sports Complex. The foundation’s grant was matched by a $20,000 donation from Whitefish residents Sherry and Dave Lesar. Project Whitefish Kids is the sponsoring nonprofit organization and donated land for the courts.

Whitefish Community Foundation’s Major Community Project Grant program is dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations complete capital projects that will have a significant and positive effect on communities in the Flathead Valley. The program was formed in 2010 and has awarded $714,000 to projects identified and selected by the foundation’s Board of Directors.

Project Whitefish Kids is a nonprofit organization formed in 1997 to provide North Valley youth with access to sports fields. The organization completed construction of the Smith Fields Youth Sports Complex in 2003 and is responsible for all aspects of park maintenance and improvement.

Ground breaking for the new pickleball courts, which will be open to people of all ages, will take place next spring. Project Whitefish Kids is hopeful that the courts will be ready for use by mid-summer.

Community advocate and philanthropist Carol Atkinson is leading the charge to raise funds for the pickleball courts. Atkinson, who is an avid pickleball player, said she was inspired to take on the project because she saw a need in the community for additional courts. “Whitefish is so focused on outdoor recreation and good health,” she said. “This is a perfect fit.”

To date, Atkinson has raised about $210,000 in donations and pledges toward the $250,000 project. “Thank you to all who have donated,” Atkinson said. “We still have a way to go, but I know this amazing community will not let me down!”

To make a donation to Project Whitefish Kids Pickleball Court Fund, visit whitefishcf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list or call (406) 863-1781.