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Front Row: Shriver Event Closing After 25 Fine Years

Pam Shriver is known primarily as a former tennis player and current television analyst. Here in her hometown, however, she has also been active as a philanthropist.

Since 1986, Shriver has held an annual tennis challenge in Baltimore to benefit local charities. Her inspiration for the event came when she co-authored a book with sports writer Frank Deford, whose daughter had died of cystic fibrosis.

"She was moved to try to start an event to benefit cystic fibrosis, which for the first four years of the event it solely benefitted cystic fibrosis research," said Marc Kantrowitz, managing director of the event. "Pam wanted to do something to give back to the community and she was moved by Frank's own story."

About 30,000 children and adults in the United States suffer from CF, a genetic disease impacting the lungs and digestive systems. The life expectancy for CF patients has improved in the past 27 years from 10 to 37.5 years old.

"We're the only ones that are raising money for CF research and care," said Ann Krulevitz, associate executive director of the Maryland chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "Anything that's happened in those 25 years, it's because of people who have donated to the foundation."

Since Shriver's first tennis challenge, more than $4 million has been raised and donated in partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation to local children's charities. Almost $1 million has gone to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"We've been highlighted through this event and it brings a whole new group of people in the limelight of CF," Krulevitz said. "The awareness the event puts toward the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is wonderful because we have a whole new crop of volunteers who will understand what CF is about."

All proceeds from Pam Shriver's Silver Tennis Ball will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation this year, the 25th anniversary and final year of the event.

"We'd raised our child and it was time to let our child kind of leave the house, so to speak," Kantrowitz said. "We've reached the 25-year milestone, which is a long time for anything. So it was a hard decision, but we felt it was a good time."

This year's tennis challenge, presented by the Baltimore Orioles, is named Pam Shriver's Silver Tennis Ball because of the silver anniversary. The Celebrity Pro-Am will be held Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Green Spring Racquet Club, followed by a 6:30 p.m. Silver Anniversary Ball dinner at the Sheraton Inner Harbor.

There will be 12 pros and celebrities competing along with 24 amateurs playing in two groups of 12, according to Clinton Kelly of the Baltimore Tennis Patrons. Some of the celebrities who will be participating in the pro-am include Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Zina Garrison and Elise Burgin.

At the dinner, Deford will present Shriver with a Breath of Life award, given to someone whose efforts to raise awareness about CF and make donations to CF research demonstrated a commitment to finding a cure for this disease. The award is given out less than once a year, Krulevitz said, and Shriver will be the first to receive it in Maryland.

"Pam has been an inspiration," Kantrowitz said. "It's a labor of love from day one and it's just a testament to her and the community and what she brings to her hometown, which is very important to her."

-- Barrett Neale

Issue 155: November 2010

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