Paddlestar Galactica

Calling all fearless fundraising heroes, bookworms, and Heisman-like athletes: are you ready to flex your table skills while also supporting 826DC's award-winning literacy programs for over 3,000 DC students? Next April, DC's weirdest and best philanthropic ping-pong tournament will return for year EIGHT on Sunday, April 5th. Let the games begin!


What's Happening & When

Wait, what's happening?

826DC is raising money by having volunteers and friends compete in a bracket-style ping-pong tournament! Participants do some fundraising before competing at the main event at Spin DC on Sunday, April 5th, 2020.

The more money each player or team raises, the more funky cheats they’ll be able to “purchase” on the big day! 


Player Orientation

The Paddlestar VIII Player Orientation will be February 25th, 6:30-8 PM at 826DC. We’ll kick-off an incredible blaze of fundraising and ping-pong in support of young authors and review all of the practical details.

Can’t join us for orientation? No sweat. Register today and we’ll catch you up to speed.

Weekly "Practice"

Not required; just very fun. We’ll meet each week at a local bar to get some ping-pong practice in, to share fundraising tips and ideas, and to enjoy some adult beverages as you get to know the competition. 

Every week, the top fundraiser and the winner of a “skills challenge” will also win a fabulous prize donated by a local business! 

These are open practices and everyone—participants and supporters alike—is invited to attend.

The Main Event

Paddlestar VIII will be Sunday, April 5th, 2020, from 12 PM to 3:30 PM!

There will be cheap drinks. There will be music. There will be tons of prizes to win—for winning, for raising the most money, for the best costumes, for good cheer…it’s going to be an amazing day.

Invite friends to come to enjoy the chaos and to cheer you on! The crowd gets to pick some of the prizewinners and can even give their favorite teams a boost.

Note: Examples of costumes we've seen: ninjas, Ron Swansons, superheroes, animals, corporate t-shirts...

Examples of prizes we've given: Nationals tickets, trophies, Mexican vacations (!), gift boxes, coupons to local businesses...

Register to Play

Interested in launching your philanthropic table tennis career and/or trading in some athletic dignity for a great cause?

Register here!


What is this all about? 826DC is raising money by having volunteers and friends compete in a bracket-style ping-pong tournament. Participants have about six weeks to fundraise. The more money you raise, the more money your team has to “purchase” cheats on the day of the tournament.

What do I need to do?

  1. Register to play/fundraise! (see above)
  2. Ask people to sponsor you by donating money to 826DC via your fundraising page.
  3. Come to practice at the weekly check-ins/happy hours, if you can.
  4. Compete at the MAIN EVENT!

Who should I ask for money? Everyone you know and everyone you’d like to know!

Where is the money going? 100% of the money you raise will support 826DC’s no-cost writing programs for DC students ages 6-18. By funding our programs, you will help students as they build their storytelling skills and help teachers inspire their students to write! 

Do I have to raise a certain minimum? Nope! Just raise what you can. 

What do I do when someone is ready to donate money? Direct them your secure personal fundraising page, which we’ll help you set up. Donors can also write checks or give you cash!

Are donations tax-deductible? Yes. Donations made online will receive an automated letter. Donation acknowledgment letters for checks and cash will be given upon request.

What’s the deal with the weekly practices? They’re optional and very fun. Delightful weekly prizes will be distributed each week based on who raised the most money from the previous week and who is the weekly champion of a skill-based challenge.

What’s the deal with teams? You can play as an individual, ask to be matched with others to make a team, or start your own personal or corporate team! There’s nothing wrong with flying solo; the advantage of playing as a team is that you can fundraise together and you can pool your cheat money. Most teams have 2-3 players.

Do I have to actually be any good at ping-pong? Absolutely not. The more money you raise, the more cheats you can “purchase”. Making your opponent use their shoe as a paddle or wear an eye patch (see ya later, depth perception!) might be enough to get you into that next bracket. There are also always prizes like “Best Uniform” that are up for grabs, regardless of skill level.

How can I spread the word? Share links and info on your favorite social media platforms! You’re also welcome to post about this in local coffee shops, in company newsletters, (legally) on telephone poles, etc.

How can I get more bang for my buck? See if your employer/your donor’s employer can match gifts!

What else do I need to know? You are the bee’s knees!

What if I have an unanswered question? Or some kind of ping-pong-related crisis? Contact us at any time!

Rules & Cheats

Cheat Purchasing Teams purchase their cheats in the week leading up to the tournament. There will also be a few low-dollar *tournament specials* so spectators can give the team of their choice a boost during play. Teams may donate their unused cheats once they get knocked out of the tournament.

Rules of Play Every table will have 2 volunteers assigned to it: a Scorekeeper and an Official Official. The Official Official is there to settle any disputed points and monitor the use of cheats. They have the final call on all points. Cheats may be used at any time and last for 2 pts. A round is played best of 3 games. For each game, the first player to reach 11 pts wins that game, however a game must be won by at least a 2 pt margin. A point is scored after each ball is put into play (not just when the server wins the point as in volleyball).

Serving Each player serves two points in a row and then server switches. After each game, players switch sides of the table. Serving player must first rest the ball on an open hand palm, then toss it up at least 6” and strike so the ball first bounces on the server’s side and then the opponent’s side. If the serve is legal except that it touches the net, it should be reserved (no points).


Cheat Description Price
“Paddle-fracked” Your opponent must use their hand as a paddle. $200
“Tigh One On” In honor of Col. Tigh. Your opponent must wear an eye patch. $200
“Phasers to Stun” When you serve, a teammate throws three balls at the same time, your opponent must return one and continue play. $200
“Cylon Swap” This cheat allows you to ask a friend, colleague, family or frenemy to play for you. $200
“Starbuck’s Revenge” Swap your opponent’s paddle for a fly swatter. (This one is nearly impossible… nearly) $400
“Total Eclipse of the…Pong” Your opponent must wear impenetrable sunglasses. $400
“Starbuck’s Revenge” Swap your opponent’s paddle for a fly-swatter. $400


Become a Sponsor

Are you interested in becoming a sponsor for DC’s weirdest and best ping-pong tournament? Learn more about building a corporate team or becoming an event sponsor here, or email us at

Last Year's Sponsors

Clark Construction

West Wing Writers