(May 10, 2019) In its first three years, the Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament raised more than $110,000 to support lung research at the University of Maryland.
The event also continues to raise awareness about Pulmonary Fibrosis and organ donation.
“We were really expecting this to be a little tournament and then the first year after we reached $25,000 we were like, ‘Wow, people really care about this,’ and we started reaching out to new people trying to make this as big and influential as we could,” said tournament organizer, Worcester Preparatory School junior Abi Plylar. “So far, we’ve raised $110,000. That money has gone to research at the University of Maryland and has started to produce a drug for Pulmonary Fibrosis. To be a part of something that actually could cure a disease is just really impactful.”
About 30 players participated the first year and close to $25,000 was raised. During the second year, the field grew to about 45 and approximately $30,000 was garnered. Last year, about 70 players took part in the tournament and approximately $57,000 was raised.
All net proceeds will help groundbreaking research for The Program in Lung Healing at University of Maryland including: lung regeneration, lung repair, artificial respiration and adult stem cell therapies, according to the event website, www.loveforlungs.com.
The fourth annual tournament will be held Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, at Sea Colony in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
“Last year we had 70 players and anything close or about that would be extremely appreciated this year,” Plylar said. “Any money that can help the University of Maryland we’d be grateful [to receive].”
A number of players have already registered. Most have participated in the tournament before, but there are also many new competitors this year.
“It’s a very fun tournament,” said Plylar, who plays tennis for Worcester Prep. “It’s for all ages and skill levels. We have little kids playing against 80-year-olds. It’s just a fun time to come out and play with new people.”
Plylar started the tournament in honor of her grandfather, Ron, and to raise awareness and funds for lung disease research.
On April 17, 2015, her grandfather passed away from the lung disease Pulmonary Fibrosis.
“Despite visiting numerous top pulmonary physicians across the country, my grandfather’s disease continued to go misdiagnosed,” she said on the event’s website. “He was considered a high-risk transplant candidate due to his age and the severity of his disease. Nevertheless, Dr. Aldo Iacono at the University of Maryland Lung Rescue Unit accepted him as a patient. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before he could receive a lung transplant.”
After his death, she and her family were invited to tour the Program in Lung Healing at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Plylar said she was so impressed with the research conducted there that she wanted to show her support, so she decided to start a tennis tournament.
The round robin doubles tournament is open to all ages and abilities.
On Friday, May 17, women’s and men’s doubles competitions are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sea Colony. Mixed doubles matches will be played on Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Breakfast and lunch will be served both days. An after party with wine, hors d’oeuvres and music will take place Saturday, May 18 from 5:30-8 p.m. featuring local celebrity chef and musician Paul Cullen.
New this year, Our Harvest in Fenwick Island, Delaware, will host a Dine and Donate event on Friday, beginning at 5 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will go to Love for Lungs.
The cost to participate is $100 per person, which includes an option to play both days, T-shirt, breakfast, lunch, prizes, winner’s award baskets, gift bags, and entrance to the after party. Registration is preferred by Wednesday, May 15, but entry spots may still be open the day of the event.
Several sponsorship levels are available. Donations are also accepted year-round.
“I can’t really put it into words how much this means to me,” Plylar said. “I’m just so honored to be able to try to carry out the legacy of my grandfather. I hope he’s excited his legacy will help people.”