ATLANTIC CITY — “This isn’t your average fundraiser,” Mary Anne Hills said as she released the plunger on the pinball machine, sending the silver ball up and around obstacles and lights, racking up points.
“I just go for it,” Hills, 57, of Ventnor, said as she worked the flippers of the classic arcade game, adding that it takes both a little bit of luck and skill to get a high score.
More than a dozen pinball wizards gathered in the Starcade on the ground floor of the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel on Saturday to compete for bragging rights and prizes and to raise money for a good cause at the first Brian and Mark’s Pinball Arcade Monsters, or BAMPAM.
Presented by Fulton Bank of New Jersey and Level Up Entertainment, as well as a dozen other sponsors, the tournament raised money for The Arc of Atlantic County’s Holiday Partners program. The program works to provide food, gifts and services for children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities during the holiday season.
As of noon, the event had raised $1,000, Mark Hills, communication coordinator for The Arc of Atlantic County, said.
“We’re trying to find new, fun ways to raise money and awareness for The Arc,” Hills said, adding that after brainstorming with co-workers as well as friends and reaching out to the Starcade, they found that a pinball tournament was a great opportunity to raise some money.
“Inclusion is just very important to us,” Hills said. “When you see the people we serve doing things like playing pinball, people see they should be included.”
Both competitive and casual pinball players participated in the tournament. Among them were Gregg Mester, 39, owner of Level Up Entertainment, who said he’s been practicing by competing in other tournaments.
Level Up Entertainment manager Becca Swezeny, 26, said that she doesn’t compete, echoing Mary Anne Hill’s sentiment that there’s a bit of luck involved.
“Sometimes you’re bad and sometimes you’re not,” she said.
Starcade owner Bridget Den Boer, 22, of Sparta, Sussex County, said that it was a great experience working with The Arc to bring the tournament to life.
“I’m just happy I can do something to bring people together,” she said.
To find out more information about The Arc of Atlantic County, visit thearcatlantic.org.