Playing for the Love of St. Augustine
BY MEAGHAN ALVARADO
PHOTOS BY KATE GARDINER
There’s a sentiment of love surrounding the All American Air Table Tennis Classic. Since Steve and Christine Chapman’s marriage on Valentine’s Day weekend in 2003 (owners of All American Air Conditioning, Inc.), the event has been held around the same time each year, and the artwork used to promote the event includes hearts. All American Air Charity Foundation (AAACF) Vice President Linda Meehan says their annual tagline is also written to represent their belief in the value of giving back to the community they love.
The Chapmans launched the first All American Air Table Tennis Classic (AAATTC) in 2009 out of their house. Stemming from an idea presented by Derek May, the event is approaching its tenth anniversary.
Eight female board directors and various other supporters, including All American Air employees, work to if it weren’t for Derek and his father, Pete May. The two have been involved in competitive table tennis for many years with multiple titles on their paddles. They work diligently alongside the foundation to make each event a success.
Due to the popularity of the event, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable foundation was officially formed in 2011: the All American Air Charitable Foundation (AAACF). For the last decade, players have lined up for a double elimination tournament right around Valentine’s Day. The 2019 event will be held at the new Embassy Suites by Hilton with 85 contestants and their many supporters around five tables. It’s not surprising to see a local business professional wearing a chicken suit and holding a frying pan while playing!
Out of the popularity and success of the AAATTC came the Youth Table Tennis Championship (YTTC) for contestants age 18 and under, now in its fourth year. Many of the young players are children of the adult competitors.
Thanks to the generosity of All American Air and other sponsors, every penny made from this annual event is donated. AAACF has distributed over $640,000 among more than 100 local organizations. Some of the foundation’s most substantial donations have been given to the Limelight Theatre, Junior Service League, Habitat for Humanity, and EPIC. Linda says, “We strive to spread the funding as far as we can each year and are very conscientious stewards of the monies entrusted to our foundation.”
Of the Chapmans, she says, “Their love of St. Augustine and its people is unrivaled, and we are all the better for their generosity and unselfish acts of kindness through the years.”