My brother always says, “Fun is fun!” Seems obvious, but sometimes, fun is MORE than fun. Last Friday I got to have one of those days. For the last few months, I’ve been serving on a committee that was planning an event that has been happening here for the last 16 years and since it involves tennis and fun, I’m all over it. The bonus part of the equation, the MORE than fun part is that it was a benefit tournament for Candlelighters which serves Any Baby Can. Specifically, the charity is about childhood cancer and serving families who are affected by this devastating disease.
If you know me, you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve and kids (my kids or yours) are dear to me. I happened to play in the Candlelighters tournament last year for the first time. It’s a great time and an interesting format. You get a “dance card” as you sign in that shows your player number and schedule. You then get to play 6 rounds of doubles (8 games each round) with a partner whose player number is matched up with yours. After 8 games, you move to your next court and your next partner recording only the number of games you won in each round. The winners have the most wins at the end.
You meet lots of people and boy, you play a lot of tennis. Sometimes you play well, and sometimes you don’t! It’s very fun and keeps most people from being too serious or too competitive, but is very high quality tennis… just ask my calf which took the full brunt of an adult male overhead shot! I’m so not complaining: a) it was a good shot and b) I’ve got an awesome bruise as a story piece!
After the 3 hours of nonstop tennis, everyone goes up to the clubhouse for food, drinks and silent auction. Competition is not left on the courts, the silent auction goodies are up for grabs! We had a wine toss ($20 for three ring tosses… and you keep the wine you lasso) and then sponsors are recognized, winners tallied and announced and they introduce a family who has received services from the Candlelighters and Any Baby Can.
This is where my heart aches… but this is where my heart gets full too.
The past two families have been Mexican American families who spoke little to no English, but who felt so grateful that they chose to stand up and speak in broken English about the difference this program made in their lives. I cry everytime. They had their children with them, and they seemed to be doing well. Candlelighters had jumped in and helped them as soon as their son was diagnosed with Leukemia. Although they had insurance, copays were too much. They needed someone to help them translate, and help take care of their other children while they were in the hospital with the sick one. They needed someone sometimes to hold their hands, or pick up kids from school or to give them a break and a night out.
I can’t imagine that situation. I can’t imagine feeling so afraid and not being able to understand the language, or costs, or being able to even think about keeping life moving for the other kids. I can’t imagine. It fills my heart to be able to help these people. I can’t take the pain and fear away, but I feel so blessed to be able to provide a way for them to get some help.
When it was all said and done, and with the help of a generous tennis club (The Courtyard) and the unwavering support of volunteers, sponsors and players we were able to turn a small event into over $20,000!
My heart is full. That was indeed a Good Friday, the big bruise is a bonus!