This past Saturday March 4th, Tennis.Life was proud to host the first annual Play For Luke Tennis Fundraiser at the legendary Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates, Ca. A few words about what turned out to be a great day.
The energy behind the Team Luke Foundation emanates from former American tennis star Tim Siegel, whose 10-year-old son Luke suffered a severe brain injury 19 months ago in a tragic golf cart accident. Deprived of oxygen for 25 minutes, Luke was given very little chance at ever recovering anything resembling functionality. But through tireless work from Siegel, his family, the entire medical community and most importantly Luke himself, he is beginning to make some noticeable, heartwarming progress.
The Team Luke Foundation emerged from the nationwide Pray For Luke campaign started just after Luke Siegel’s accident. It’s now a national foundation dedicated to helping similarly afflicted children and their families navigate the uncharted waters of life-changing traumatic brain injuries.
It was a day like any other day. A young, athletic boy in perfect health at a neighbor’s house playing. Just like every single one of us did at Luke’s age. They took a golf cart out, got going too fast and lost control of the cart. It flipped over on to Luke, damaging his skull. In a flash, everything in the Siegel’s family life changed forever.
Recovery a long road
Luke’s recovery has been well-documented on his Pray For Luke Facebook page. The road has been long, with more hard days than not, with young Luke’s future is unclear. What is crystal clear is the amount of love and support for Luke from all those he has touched with his story, inspired by the fiercest love I’ve ever seen of a father for his son.
Motivated by our mutual friend Bobby Banck’s tennis fundraiser for Tim in the fall, I got the idea to organize my Southern California tennis friends to rally around Luke and his family for a day of tennis, while generating as much support and awareness as possible for the Team Luke Foundation.
A who’s who of American tennis from the 80s and 90s stepped up in a big way. Amond those who volunteered their Saturday for Luke: Eliot Teltscher, Jim Pugh, Jorge Lozano, John Letts, Justin Gimelstob, Tim Triguero, Bobby Blair, Dave Borelli, Tony Minnis, Steve Johnson Sr, Dennis Rizza, Rylan Rizza, Morisa Yang, Eric Basica, Courtney Hance, Stephanie Lansdorp and many more, all capped off by an inspiring appearance by legendary coach Robert Lansdorp.
The day was a huge success. We had gear for auction donated by Pete Sampras, Grigor Dimitrov, the UCLA and Stanford tennis teams, the Bryan brothers and their father Wayne, as well as our own site Tennis.Life, which donated several work outs with Nick Bollettieri in Indian Wells to the auction.
The turnout was great, with The Kramer Club a perfect backdrop, and a nice sum of money was raised for the Team Luke Foundation. I seriously hope this is the beginning of what will become an annual tradition.
There’s no guidebook for dealing with this level of tragedy. It takes guts and courage at levels unimaginable to keep fighting for those you love dearly. The Siegel family’s fight for Luke’s health is still in its early stages. They and other families like Tim’s need our support.
Thank you for everyone who came out in support of the event. If you would like to donate to the foundation or check upcoming events, click here.