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USTA Florida to Attend Charity Tennis Classic

January 5, 2007 01:00 PM

Imagine you have two months to live.  Once an active individual, you are living on oxygen unable to walk across a room without losing your breath.  You have pulmonary fibrosis and your life rests on one important question and one fateful call; will you find an organ donor?  A doctor whose passion for life is as strong as your own tells you never give up. 

The anticipated call arrives and when you wake up, you have a new lung.  Four years later, all odds against you, life is a blessing.  You decide to give back to the doctors who saved your life.  Meet Tom Telford.

In December 2002, Tom received a left lung transplant at Shands Transplant Center in Gainesville.  Although he is part of the lucky few to receive a new organ, Tom’s future survival is far from certain. 

On March 31, Tom is hosting the UF Sports Performance Tennis Classic at the University of Florida in Gainesville.  The purpose of this charitable tennis fundraiser is to solicit support for conducting research about lung transplant rejection in children and adults with cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. There is a critical need for this research because the national average five-year survival for transplanted patients is only 50 percent! 

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Tennis all-star Lisa Raymond is coming back to her roots as a Gator to participate in the charity event.  Mary Pierce, Renee Stubbs, Cara Black and more WTA players will also attend to support this important cause. 

The event will include an on-court tennis clinic with the WTA professionals, personal interaction with the players during lunch, afternoon exhibition matches between the WTA players and an evening sit-down dinner with the tennis stars and event sponsors.  A silent auction will also take place to raise money for lung transplant research. 

Dr. John Ross, a pediatric neurologist at Shands Hospital, is passionate about Tom’s cause.  At 77 years old, when most individuals have retired, Dr. Ross is leading the efforts of this silent problem. 

“Two important goals we hope to accomplish,” Dr. Ross said, “are to make the public aware that rejection problems are real and to raise $120,000 for the doctors at Shands to start researching the trigger mechanisms for these rejection processes.”

“Cooperative activity is going on within the community to make this a successful and fun event.  I have been playing USTA tennis all my life, and I have talked to different tennis clubs in the Gainesville area.  Everyone is interacting in a positive way.”

Although the weekend will be highlighted by the Tennis Charity Event, it will also include Friday and Sunday matches of the women’s Florida Gator Tennis Team at home.  Gator matches are FREE to the public and will take place at the Ring Tennis Complex.

“Ever since this happened, I thought, ‘What can I do for them?’” Tom said.  “Even though it is a lot of hard work, it’s worth it with all the nice people you meet.”

Please help spread the word about lung rejection research and join in the community’s commitment to educate and raise awareness.  To donate, participate, volunteer or learn more information, visit www.charitytennisclassic.org or call 352-372-1945.

 

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