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Athlete Charities :: Andrea Jaeger

Dec 27, 2006

What could be better than traveling the world, making millions of dollars to play sports? Well, for Andrea Jaeger - there was something better. Helping out kids with terminal cancer.

More than 20 years ago, Andrea became a pro-tennis player. She was only 14 but was one of the best players in the world. She was kinda like the Martina, Anna or Serena of 20 years ago. Andrea was great with the racket but she had lots of problems in school. "Freshmen in high school don't usually have their pictures on the sports page. I was very shy and perceived by other kids as being unapproachable. I was resented, shoved against lockers, had food thrown at me in the cafeteria," says Andrea.

By the time Andrea was 16, she had made it to the finals of Wimbledon and was ranked number two in the world. She was kicking butt in tournaments all over but had lots of trouble with her opponents off the court. They would make fun of her pigtails and braces, especially after Andrea beat them. She made a lot of money, stayed in five star hotels with room sevice but she had no friends on the tour.

Then one day Andrea passed by a toy store and decided to buy a bunch of toys for some sick kids at a nearby hospital. Some of the kids were bald from chemotherapy while others had lost hands or fingers from cancer. They knew what it was like to be pointed at or made fun of - just like Andrea did. She had a great time and continued to visit her friends in the hospital.

By the time Andrea was 19, her tennis career was pretty much over because of several shoulder injuries. She had a nice car and more than a million bucks in the bank and Andrea wanted to help sick kids. So, she sold her car and used her money to form the Silver Lining Foundation. She would take kids on vacation to Aspen, Colorado -so they could forget about the pain of having cancer. When all her money was gone, Andrea began fund raising so she could help more kids. It was difficult at first but then former tennis star, John McEnroe donated some money. Then others did as well including Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and David Robinson from the San Antonio Spurs.

With the help of donations and a piece of land which was donated by the Benedict family, Andrea's Silver Lining Foundation was able to build a ranch in Aspen where kids with cancer can come for a week to ride horses, fish, swim, play tennis and just hang out. It gives the kids a chance to have fun and meet friends in a setting totally different from a hospital. They also get a chance to talk with other kids about what it's like to have cancer. The Foundation also arranges trips for kids to travel to Wimbledon and the US Open. Over the years, hundreds of kids have come to the ranch to visit Andrea and forget about cancer. It's been great for the kids and great for Andrea who says she enjoys it as much as the kids do. For her work, Andrea was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame in May, 2001.

To find out more about Andrea or to make a donation to the Silver Lining Foundation, click here.

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