CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — No-cost food, cold drinks and competition filled Taylor Street in downtown Champaign Tuesday evening for the United Way of Champaign County’s Battle for the Paddle ping pong tournament.

“We use this event to kick off our annual campaign that we have every year,” said the United Way’s Sue Grey. “Fundraising for the community and to put towards programs and fund the grants.”

Money from the event helps United Way’s early grade level success initiative.

Four teams competed for bragging rights and were represented by local leaders, including University of Illinois head women’s tennis coach Evan Clark. For Clark, festivities benefited his own family.

“It’s one reason we really wanted to be involved because, obviously, our kids are first and third grade and they’re starting to experience elementary school and we quickly realized how important those years are for our kids and we want the rest of the kids in the community to feel support just like our kids do,” Clark said.

Grey is thrilled to have the support from Illini Athletics and to continue working with community partners.

“It is a sporting event, so we’ve got all kinds of coaches from the University of Illinois here who are just awesome,” Grey said.

Grey even got a chance to play and said it was going to be an epic battle until the very end. It was a competition for some, but a fun night for everyone.

People who donate to and support the cause will be entered into a drawing to win their choice of St. Louis Cardinals or Chicago White Sox tickets. More information can be found on United Way’s website.