LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On the shore of Million Dollar Beach in Lake George, N.Y., hundreds of beach volleyball players came out between Saturday and Sunday morning to partake in a tournament benefitting a truly million-dollar cause.
The 4-on-4 Million Dollar Beach Volleyball Tournament was designed to raise money for Prospect Center, an affiliate of the Center for Disability Services. The event holds a special place in co-tournament director Chris Bowler’s heart.
“I had a child with a disability, so…I was involved with Prospect very young; when he was very young,” said Bowler. “And we just kind of went from there. What we’ve done throughout the year is we’ve gotten them vans, swim pools, for the kids, everything. All the money goes to them. We don’t collect anything.”
The event has garnered massive popularity in the 31 years since its’ inception, going from five nets when the tournament moved to Lake George in 1996, to now 17 courts. What Bowler calls the “biggest tournament of the summer in upstate New York,” the attraction has become nation-wide.
Players made the trek to Lake George from states as far as Florida, Colorado, and California. Alexander Kupin, a native of Carlsbad, Calif., just appreciated the opportunity to be involved in an enjoyable event representing a noble cause.
“It’s amazing. I mean…it’s not really about playing,” said Kupin. “It’s about spreading awareness, and that’s kind of what we’re really here for.”
For some, the tournament is a rite of passage. Scott and Kim Newell, natives of Lake George, have attended all 31 tournaments. Scott Newell, who still plays every year, relishes the blend of competition and focus on raising money for Prospect Center.
“Their people who organize it are terrific,” said Scott Newell. “And they’re all from the organization, and…it’s a great service for the kids that need the help.”
Kim Newell admires the growth of the tournament over the 31 years she and her husband have participated.
“They’re very dedicated,” said Kim Newell. “They’ve tweaked things year after year, and made it better every year really.”
Bowler co-founded the tournament with his brother, who died in 2020. But Bowler believes his brother would be proud of what the event they humbly started so many years ago has blossomed into.
“He was confident enough to give it over to me – turn it over to me,” said Bowler. “And we’ve just grown with it, and we’ve gone from there, and it’s just amazing. The amount of outreach that we get from people; the support. Everybody comes off the beach and says, “Greatest weekend. So much fun. We love it here. We’re gonna play every year.””
The tournament is reported to have raised over $30,000 for Prospect Center.