Midland, Ontario, Pickleball advocate overcomes disease through sport

Pickleball saved Garry Morehouse’s life.

The founding director of the Midland Pickleball Club was inexplicably hit about two years ago with myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease that leads to muscle weakness.

“It’s a rare disorder with no cause and no cure,” said Morehouse.

He suffered the worst symptoms a year and a half ago. He had double vision and couldn’t control his muscles.

“I couldn’t lift a litre of milk out of the fridge,” he said.

Luckily there is medication and somehow Morehouse kept playing pickleball and built his co-ordination and strength to the point of where he can now play two hours a day.

“I made a remarkable comeback. Everyone thinks it’s a miracle,” he said.

Morehouse recently spoke at a health symposium in the United States about using pickleball to battle the effects of myasthenia gravis. He also monitors a support group for the disease.

“I’m absolutely convinced it’s been pickleball that’s allowed me to do so well,” he said.

For this reason, Morehouse will continue to advocate to attract more people to the low-impact sport and for the development of more courts. Pickleball is both a great sport and offers lots of health benefits for people of all ages, he said.

“If I can do it at 74 with a rare disease and a hip replacement, I’m sure it’s good for a lot of people.”

What Morehouse is excited about this spring is the construction of courts in Penetanguishene’s McGuire Park.

Garry Morehouse, who started the Midland Area Pickleball Club, gets out and plays the sport four to five times a week. – Andrew Mendler/Metroland
Midland’s four pickleball courts located on a single former tennis court at Tiffin Park will serve as the model for similar pickleball courts being built at McGuire Park in Penetanguishene. – Garry Morehouse photo

Sherry Desjardins, director of recreation and community services, said the Town’s 2019/2020 budget includes funds for the courts. The old tennis courts were torn out last fall. New asphalt will be laid down as weather allows, painted and netted by the end of the summer.

“This will be the first opportunity for people to play outdoor pickleball in the Town of Penetanguishene,” said Desjardins.

The Town will host an opening with workshops and programming once the courts are open.

“They will be very similar to the Tiffin courts,” said Desjardins, referring to four courts at Tiffin Park in Midland on a single, former tennis court.

Morehouse and Helen Proctor were inducted  to the Midland Sports Hall of Fame last September for their work in founding the Midland Pickleball Club and getting the Tiffin courts built.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in North America,” said Morehouse, adding that the Pickleball Canada newsletter has more than 10,000 members.

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