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Ticketed Event Promotes USA Table Tennis US Open Returning to Grand Rapids with Private Movie Screening, Table Tennis Challenge and Donation to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids


Grand Rapids, Mich., June 19, 2014 – It’s a “ping pong” summer in Grand Rapids literally and figuratively as the fast-paced, professional-level USA Table Tennis (USATT) US Open returns to town a third time July 1-5, while the big screen welcomes a summer comic flick about the sport that is sure to become a cult classic. Locals can celebrate them both at a special, one-night-only “Ping Pong Summer” movie screening and table tennis bracket challenge benefiting Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids at 6 p.m. June 25 at Celebration! Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Dr. NE.


“We encourage the community to come out and enjoy this fun evening that celebrates the sport of table tennis and benefits Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “We are grateful for the support of Celebration! Cinema and ESPN 96.1 FM in helping create this exciting event that should get everyone fired up about table tennis.”


Hosted by the West Michigan Sports Commission, Celebration! Cinema, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and media partner ESPN 96.1 FM, the $15 event includes watching an amateur and local celebrity table tennis challenge, with the winners of each bracket playing each other in a championship round. Amateur players will be selected from radio callers throughout the week through on-air promotions on 96.1FM. The grand prize winner will receive a full pass to the US Open, a $50 gift certificate for Gilda’s LaughFest 2015 and a $50 gift card to Celebration! Cinema. In addition, a $1,000 charitable donation will be provided by Celebration! Cinema, with $500 going to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and $500 to the charity of choice by the winner of this bracket challenge.  


Following the challenge, attendees will be treated to a private screening, complete with drink and popcorn, of the new 80s-era coming-of-age comedy “Ping Pong Summer” starring Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, Gilda’s LaughFest alum Judah Friedlander, and Lea Thompson. A cash bar also will be available during the movie screening. A percent of all ticket proceeds will be donated to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.


“We are so grateful to be a charity partner in this great evening, which ties in nicely with our festival of laughter where a number of our comedians also are table tennis players,” said Gilda’s LaughFest Festival Director Joanne Roehm. Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids secured local LaughFest comedians Allen Trieu and Stu McCallister to participate in the celebrity bracket of the evening’s table tennis challenge.


Attendees also can purchase raffle tickets for a celebrity-signed table tennis table that has been touring Grand Rapids for the past five months in anticipation of the US Open in July. Signed by actor/comedian Judah Friedlander (who played on it during a demo match at Gilda’s LaughFest 2014 in partnership with the West Michigan Sports Commission), NFL Quarterback Kirk Cousins and others, the table will be raffled off during the US Open championship round (semi-finals and finals) on Saturday, July 5 at 3 p.m. Those who show a purchased raffle ticket will receive free admission to the championship round on July 5. Raffle tickets cost $10 apiece or three for $25. Proceeds from the raffle will be evenly divided between USATT and Gilda's Club Grand Rapids.


The June 25 table tennis event schedule is as follows:

  • 6 – 7 p.m.         Amateur and local celebrity table tennis bracket challenge
  • 7:30 p.m.          “Ping Pong Summer” movie screening (Unrated; running time: 92 minutes)


Tickets to the evening event can be purchased online for $15 at or at the door. More information about the Celebration! Cinema event can be found at






About the USA Table Tennis (USATT) US Open 

As the largest table tennis competition in North America, the USATT 2014 US Open returns to Grand Rapids a third time, featuring 700 of the top-rated domestic and international male and female athletes playing July 1-5 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Participants from 21 countries compete in 86 event divisions on 100 tables, competing for prize money of $65,000. Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office and through Ticketmaster, either online (, by phone (800.745.300), or at a Ticketmaster outlet. For tournament-related and Grand Rapids information, visit or


About the West Michigan Sports Commission

The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 300 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 315,000 athletes and visitors, generating more than $100 million in direct visitor spending. Visit for more information.


About Gilda's Club Grand Rapids

Gilda's Club Grand Rapids provides free emotional healthcare to children adults, families, and friends on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause. The comprehensive program, delivered by licensed healthcare professionals includes education, structured sharing times, networking, lectures, workshops, and social activities. Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is one of the largest and busiest of the 52 affiliates in North America. The organization runs entirely on charitable donations and serves more than 10,000 individuals each year at its clubhouses in Grand Rapids and Lowell, Mich., in various schools and in five community centers. For more information, visit


About Celebration! Cinema

John D. Loeks owns and operates Celebration! Cinema movie theatres in Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Gaines Township, Grandville, Lansing, Muskegon/ Norton Shores, Kalamazoo/ Portage, Benton Harbor/ St. Joseph, Okemos and Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Celebration! Cinema is a state-of-the-art shared entertainment experience with first-rate amenities at each location. For more information, visit


About ESPN 96.1 FM - WOOD Radio

ESPN 96.1 FM - With Mike & Mike weekdays 6-10 a.m. and "It Is What It Is" with Sean Baligian from 3-7 p.m.  Also, your exclusive radio home for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Newsradio WOOD 1300 & 106.9 FM - West Michigan's Breaking News, Weather and Traffic Station - Depend on it!  For more information, visit and

Media Contacts

West Michigan Sports Commission:

Katy Tigchelaar

Kim Skeltis, Blue Blaze PR

Meijer State Games of Michigan:

Eric Engelbarts, II

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