BERLIN – A high school student with a passion for tennis and a desire to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis will host her third Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament next month.
On May 18 and 19, Abigail Plylar, a 10th-grade student at Worcester Preparatory School, will host her third Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament at the Sea Colony Tennis Center in Bethany Beach, Del.
Since 2016, the tournament has raised nearly $60,000 for lung research and awareness for pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that has had a profound impact on Plylar’s family.
“Three or four years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which is an extremely invasive lung disease,” she said. “It’s very difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. By the time they realized it was pulmonary fibrosis it was very late in the disease.”
In April of 2015, Plylar’s grandfather, Ron Plylar, died while awaiting a lung transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Despite the loss of her grandfather, Plylar said she and her family were grateful for the support of hospital staff.
“We were so in awe of how kind they were and how much they wanted to help my grandfather get better,” she said.
Shortly after his death, Plylar and her family were invited to tour the Program in Lung Healing at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She said the advances being made in lung disease research inspired her to create the Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament.
“We were so blown away by how kind they were that we wanted to support them,” she said. “Tennis is the only sport I play, and I really love it. So we started this tennis tournament to help them and raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis.”
With her family’s help, and through the support of sponsors, donors and University of Maryland medical staff, Plyer said the first Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament in May of 2016 raised nearly $28,000 for the Program in Lung Healing.
“We were only expected to raise maybe $5,000 and it came in at almost $28,000,” she said.
Plylar said the success of her first tournament quickly lead to inquiries of a second.
“It was kind of small, but it was a lot of fun and very successful,” she said. “Everybody was asking when next year’s tournament was going to be.”
In May of 2017, Plylar hosted the second annual Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament. She noted that participation and donations doubled from the year prior.
This year, Plylar said the tournament is looking for more participants, sponsors and donors. Monetary and in-kind donations will be accepted, or those interested can donate directly to the Program in Lung Healing at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“All the profits go directly there,” she said. “We don’t touch it at all.”
This year’s tournament will be held on Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19, at the Sea Colony Tennis Center in Bethany Beach. Men’s and women’s doubles events will take place on Friday, while mixed couples events will take place on Saturday. An after party, featuring food and music by Paul Cullen, will be held on May 19 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
“I’ve seen this tournament give people hope,” she said. “Last year, we had some previous lung transplant recipients come and speak at our after party on Saturday night and their stories brought people to tears.”
Plylar encouraged anyone to participate in the tournament.
“We’re hoping to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis and show how people can help save lives,” she said.
For more information, or to participate in the tournament, visit www.loveforlungs.com.
“The can register to play, they can sign up to be a donor or they can sign up to be a sponsor,” she said. “They can do anything they want to do from there.”