BERLIN – A Worcester Prep student is raising funds for lung research through the fourth annual Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament.
On May 17-18, Abigail Plylar, a junior at Worcester Preparatory School, will host the fourth annual Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament at the Sea Colony Tennis Center in Bethany Beach, Del.
Since 2016, the tournament has raised more than $110,000 for lung research.
For Plylar, the tennis tournament is a way to honor her grandfather, Ron Plylar, who was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and passed away in 2015 while awaiting a lung transplant at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
“We were so impressed by the care and immense kindness they showed my grandfather that we wanted to do something to thank them for the passion they had for curing lung disease,” she said. “We also wanted to donate funds toward the research they were doing.”
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 and were impressed with the research being done to benefit those with lung disease.
To that end, Plylar decided to use her passion for tennis to raise awareness for pulmonary fibrosis, organ donation and scientific research and created the Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament to benefit the Program in Lung Healing.
“The first two years we had between 30 and 50 players,” she said. “The first year we raised about $28,000, the second year we raised about $30,000 and last year we had 70 players and raised a little over $51,000. We were very surprised and excited by it.”
It was through these efforts that Dr. Aldo Iacono – medical director of the Lung Healing Program at the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland School of Medicine – and the University of Maryland Development Office nominated Plylar to win the 2018 Youth Philanthropist of the Year award, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Maryland Chapter. And at a recognition ceremony late last year, Plylar said she was able to share the Love for Lungs Tennis Tournament and its mission.
“I’m very honored to have received that award,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to tell the roughly 500 people that were there about pulmonary fibrosis, Love for Lungs and just what my grandfather meant to me.”
This year, Love for Lungs will return to the Sea Colony for its fourth annual tournament on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Men’s and women’s doubles events will take place on Friday, while mixed couples events will take place on Saturday. Breakfast and lunch will be served daily.
Plylar added this year’s tournament will also feature a Dine and Donate event provided by Our Harvest on Friday at 5 p.m. and an after party featuring food and music by Paul Cullen on Saturday from 5:30-8 p.m.
“Dr. Aldo Iacono, who helped my grandfather, will also be there to speak, as well as a couple of lung transplant recipients,” she said.
Plylar said individuals can register to play online or in person the day of the event. The tournament is open to players of all skill levels and even those without partners.
Plylar also encouraged those who don’t play tennis to help the tournament in other ways.
“We are always looking for people to come help during the day, to set up food or take pictures,” she said. “We’re also open to people donating gifts to put in the goodie bags or for prizes to give away. Sea Colony donates balls and courts, but if anyone has anything tennis related they would like to donate, like towels or material things, we are open to that as well.”
To participate, donate or become a sponsor, visit www.loveforlungs.com.
“We love seeing how kind people are and how willing they are to donate to this event,” she said. “It means so much to us to see how we can take somebody who was so important to me and my family and glorify him through helping the lives of other people.”