WEST?LIBERTY - A charity tennis event set for Sunday at West Liberty University will benefit Free Wheelchair Mission, and coordinators believe the turnout for the inaugural event will be well received.
The event, occurring from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., will be held at West Liberty University Edgar Martin Tennis Complex.
"This event was designed to provide a venue for tennis lovers to compete while benefiting a note-worthy cause through Free Wheelchair Mission," said Missy Bailey Piko, tournament coordinator. "If we can get people off the ground and in free wheelchairs in underdeveloped countries via our event, we know we had a successful tournament."
CHARITY?TOURNAMENT — Wendy Scatterday, Ohio Valley Coordinator for Free Wheelchair Mission, left, and Missy Bailey Piko, tournament coordinator, prepare for the upcoming tennis tournament. -- Contributed
Entry fee for the event is $59.20 per player, which is the cost of one wheelchair. Ticket includes entry in round robin tournament and a buffet supper from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which is provided by As You Like It Catering, owned by Bob Bailey. The event is coordinated by The Gala Group of Wheeling. People who do not play in the tournament are welcome to the buffet supper at $20 per person.
There is a 50 player limit, and players interested in participating may contact Missy Bailey Piko at (304) 242-5851.
The event's main sponsor is Dr. Dante Marra of Wheeling. Dr. Marra is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine, total joint replacement and complex arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder.
Contributing sponsors include The Orthopedic Group, located in Pittsburgh, Belle Vernon, Charleroi and Uniontown, Pa.; Dr. Mark Hofbauer, foot and ankle reconstructive surgeon, of South Hills, Pa.; and Hometown Realty of Wheeling.
The event will also feature a Chinese auction with items donated by Peters Township Tennis Center and Centretown Fitness.
Free Wheelchair Mission is a nonprofit organization that seeks to transform lives through the gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor around the world. With a network of partners that spans the globe, Free Wheelchair Mission is able to construct wheelchairs and distribute them to impoverished countries for $59.20 each.
According to Dr. Don Schoendorfer, founder and president of the nonprofit organization, most wheelchairs cost $500 to $3,000 when he established the organization nine years ago. Keeping that in mind, Schoendorfer, who is a mechanical engineer by trade, designed a cheaper chair with a simpler and more durable design.
Free Wheelchair opened its first satellite office in Wheeling in 2009. In September 2009, the Rev. Chris Figaretti launched a special initiative in the Upper Ohio Valley to create the kindest community on Earth. This campaign, titled "Be the Blessing," was started to encourage folks to think and act selflessly for the benefit of others.
As part of its focus, "Be the Blessing" has adopted the Free Wheelchair Mission as its designated charity with a goal to raise $1 million for the organization, which equals more than 16,000 free wheelchairs for those in need around the world.
"We are enthusiastic that the tennis tournament is donating its proceeds to Free Wheelchair Mission," said Wendy Scatterday, Ohio Valley coordinator for Free Wheelchair Mission. "The way people of the Ohio Valley continue to change the lives around the world continues to inspire and motivate others to be the blessing every day."
The rain date for the event is Aug. 29 at the same time.