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WARSAW – For someone who has had heart trouble in her life, Camille Kerlin was more than willing to share her’s with others.
The generosity of Kerlin, who in July organized, efforted and helped run the Racquets For Riley tennis campaign, saw the hard work pay off in full Wednesday afternoon. In a check presentation with both the Riley Children’s Foundation and the Kosciusko County Riley Kids Foundation, the Warsaw Community High School senior presented $12,612.78 to the two foundations.
Not exactly small change for an event in its first year.
“I can’t really explain just how good it feels to be able to raise that much money for Riley,” Kerlin said, who admitted she would have been floored with $10,000. “The money is so helpful for the hospital and the people who need the hospital. They helped me, now I can say I helped them.”
Kerlin, who was born with a myriad of health problems, weighed just two pounds, 14 ounces at birth and was 10 weeks premature. Needing multiple heart surgeries as a child, Kerlin spent several weeks in Riley’s care, most recently in 2013 battling bacterial endocarditis. Despite the health issues, Kerlin was able to pick up a few sports and finally settled on tennis, to which she is a varsity doubles player at WCHS.
Without the help of Riley Children’s Hospital, Kerlin’s standing today would likely not be so rosy. To put together a tennis fundraiser was a natural step in the progress.
“Playing tennis is a great release for me,” Kerlin said. “With my heart condition, I would never be able to run a 5K or do a lot of extended running. Tennis has a lot of breaks, which helps me regroup. I just have to have the mental ability given. I just do the best that I can do.”
Kerlin’s work for the fundraiser, which she personally helped garner over 30 sponsors, had a check for $11,375 go to the Riley Children’s Foundation and $1,237.78 to the Kosciusko County Riley Kids Fund. Alana Helmer, on hand representing the Riley Children’s Foundation, could not believe the outpouring of support.
“This is huge, I can’t believe how many sponsors she was able to get,” Helmer said. “I was standing next to Rick (Orban, WCHS tennis coach) and saw the number of sponsors on the back of the shirt and couldn’t believe it. It shows how committed Camille is to giving back and the leadership she showed in this fundraiser.”
Added Jason Mueller, director of regional communications, Riley Children’s Foundation, “We extend admiration towards Camille’s perseverance and gratefulness for her determination to launch a successful Racquets for Riley event. Camille Kerlin, her parents, and the Warsaw Riley Regional Leadership Committee understand the hope Riley Hospital for Children provides to our community’s children.”
Camille, who was joined by her parents, Rick and Diane, as well as brother Carson, is hoping to carry the Racquets For Riley project through for a second year next summer.
“Thank you to all of the generous people who donated to make this event bigger than I could have ever hoped,” Camille said. “What a blessing to be able to help the kids of Kosciusko County and Riley Children’s Hospital.”