Kershaw's charity growing, inspiring others

Stars come out for seventh annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose fundraiser

August 9th, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- ’s legendary competitiveness is by no means limited to baseball. He brings it to everything he does. A charity ping pong tournament is no exception.

Ahead of Kershaw’s seventh annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose fundraiser on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, his tournament partner, , admitted to being nervous about letting the ace down.

“That’s right, he better be,” Kershaw said with a laugh.

Donning a tuxedo-style T-shirt and a cap representing one of that evening’s supported charities, Kershaw was the embodiment of what Ping Pong 4 Purpose is all about: fun with an important message. All proceeds from the fundraiser go to Kershaw’s Challenge, the charity founded by Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, in 2011.

Since its inception, Kershaw’s Challenge has given more than $7.5 million to groups in Los Angeles, Dallas (the Kershaws’ hometown), Zambia and the Dominican Republic to support organizations that help vulnerable and at-risk children and neighborhoods.

“Every year it just seems to keep growing and growing,” said Kershaw. “I just can’t say enough about it. To see the support is overwhelming, from teammates to celebrities to sponsors, just everybody chips in and does their part to make this event what it is. And it’s always a ton of fun to get to play ping pong, to get to hang out at Dodger Stadium, but more than anything, we get to raise a bunch of money for some kids that really need it.”

While the ping pong tourney is the main draw, attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction and pledge to support the International Justice Mission in fighting childhood sexual slavery in the Dominican Republic. Other beneficiaries include a few that work locally in L.A. -- the Dream Center, the Just Keep Livin’ Foundation and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation -- and a couple with a global focus -- Both Ends Believing and Arise Africa.

Actor Bryan Cranston, a lifelong Dodgers fan who’s often said that Vin Scully and Sandy Koufax are his heroes, served as the event’s emcee for the second year in a row.

“The Kershaws are using baseball as a focus to bring attention to [these causes], and it’s a wonderful thing,” said Cranston.

Like past years, the event featured the presentation of the Kershaw’s Challenge Impact Award in recognition of exceptional philanthropic work. This year’s guests of honor were country musician Brad Paisley and actress/author Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who co-founded a nonprofit free grocery store in Nashville that serves children and families in need and addresses issues of hunger and food security.

“This is our inspiration as a couple as far as you can make the world a better place,” the singer said. “Clayton and Ellen are the greatest two human beings, and what they do is mindblowing. The amount of money and time and effort they put in to making lives better is so inspiring.

“It feels like it should be reversed, like we should be honoring them. I’m just thrilled that they even think we’re the least bit worthy.”

As for the tournament results, it turns out that Kershaw couldn’t have asked for a better teammate. He and Bellinger mowed down their competition to claim the championship, Kershaw’s first time winning it all since the inaugural event in 2013.

Other Dodgers teammates in attendance included , , , , , , , , , , , , , Will Smith, , , , , and . Celebrities included Olivia Munn, Jaleel White, Haley Joel Osment, Mario Lopez, Robert Horry and Omar Benson Miller.

For more information about Kershaw's Challenge, visit