WARSAW – Trying to put together anything in the summer can be tricky. Vacations, holidays, free time, all the excuses. Racquets For Riley has forged on, and is making strides when many people and businesses tend to relax.
Saturday morning couldn’t have presented a better setting for tennis in the shadows of Warsaw Community High School. Cool morning, a little breezy, sun was shining. Camille Kerlin, who has been the spearhead of the Racquets For Riley fundraising campaign, brought her warm smile and positive spirit to the WCHS tennis complex, and had a lot of her friends and family with her.
Despite a lower turnout than expected, largely due to the timing of the event in proximity to both holiday vacations piggybacking the Fourth of July, as well as the high school moratorium period this week, people still showed up. Several of Kerlin’s playing partners at Warsaw came back. Hannah Rice, who herself has aided from the help of Riley’s Children Hospital, played. Anna Hall and Sydney Hartman, also former playing partners, were there. Little brother, Carson, tried teaching dad, Rick, how to hit a forehand winner.
It wasn’t as busy as a Wimbledon practice court, but it didn’t need to be.
“We’re just trying to continue with things like before,” Camille Kerlin said. “Just putting the word out there. We knew there might be some issues with vacations, but the cause still remains the same.”
Kerlin and her family are in their third year of hosting Racquets For Riley, a tennis fundraiser that generates money for Riley Children’s Hospital. Kerlin herself has needed Riley, having had heart problems and other complications since birth. Having raised over $27,500 the first two years, the goals keep elevating for Racquets.
Sponsorship in the community is at its highest this year, with Racquets garnering over 50 business sponsorships and numerous personal donations. Kerlin is waiting for a final total after a handful of potential opportunities are still on the table, but feels they could push past the $15,500 raised last year.
“That’s still the most shocking,” Kerlin noted about the number of community businesses willing to donate. “We’ve been really blessed to have so many people recognize this as important and want to help.
“Tennis is what I can play,” continued Kerlin, who was a varsity tennis player at WCHS. Kerlin is heading into her sophomore year at Indiana University. “I can’t run a 5K, and that seems like what most people are doing these days for their fundraisers. People that know me, they know me from tennis or my story from Riley. Tennis is a lifelong sport through generations. I also teach tennis lessons, and stay active in the sport that way.”
Those who cannot make it out today to play tennis can still contribute at Zoyo Frozen Yogurt on SR 15 in Warsaw. A portion of the purchase will be donated to Racquets. Businesses and personal donations can also be made through the group’s website, racquetsforriley.com.