HAVERHILL — The first Bong & Pong Championship, hosted May 1 at the Renaissance Golf Club by local cannabis retailer Stem Haverhill, proved to be a smashing success.

The cannabis-themed event attracted 32 teams and more than 300 cannabis enthusiasts, and raised $16,000 for the YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts to help support sexual assault victims.

Stem Haverhill owner Caroline Pineau applauded all of the participants and sponsors and said the event proved, once again, that cannabis entrepreneurs have added an exciting and innovative approach to fundraising in Massachusetts since legal sales began in 2018.

“I can’t express enough admiration for everyone who supported and attended this great event, not just because of the money we raised for a truly great cause, but for demonstrating once again how committed the cannabis business community is to supporting important local organizations and giving back to society,” Pineau said.

The tournament was organized by the Newton Table Tennis Center in Newton, Mass., which set up multiple professional tables for the event.

“All of the teams wore their own uniforms including some that were very colorful,” said Ralph Basiliere of Haverhill.

Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Alex Eberhardt, said she attended the event to show her support for Stem, which she said is big into philanthropic efforts in Haverhill.

“They were raising money for the YWCA, one of the many nonprofits the Chamber supports in the city,” Eberhardt said. “Whenever I call Stem they are always willing to help in any way they can.”

Eberhardt said she had noticed a shark costume while at the event and asked Pineau if she could wear it just for fun, including while playing ping pong.

“My team was very bad; we lost all three games and didn’t make the playoffs,” she said.

Bando Alternative Group, a home delivery and transportation business and a social equity applicant, won the pingpong tournament and received a first-place trophy, while Treeworks, a product manufacturer based in Hatfield, was runner-up and also received a trophy.

According to masscannabiscontrol.com, The Social Equity Program (SEP) is a free, statewide technical assistance and training program that creates sustainable pathways into the cannabis industry for individuals most impacted by the war on drugs, including disproportionate arrest and incarceration as the result of marijuana prohibition.

“We want to thank Stem Haverhill and the sponsors for this great event and for hosting such an incredible and fun tournament, a Bando representative said. “We are so appreciative to have been afforded the opportunity to compete with other Massachusetts cannabis companies in this first-ever event.”

Eunice Ziegler, director of advancement for YWCA Northeastern Massachusetts, said the event was even more impactful than imagined.

“The YWCA cannot thank Caroline Pineau and the Stem team enough for supporting our advocacy,” Ziegler said. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Stem and identifying more ways to reach members of our community that need our support.”

In addition to the pingpong competition, the event also featured an interactive glassblowing demonstration by Witch Doctor Glass Blowing Studio of Salem, along with awards for best team costumes and best individual costume. Participants also created a community art painting, with a quote by American author Maya Angelou, which will eventually be on display at the YWCA of Northeastern Massachusetts.

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