Almost 300 women from across the country came out to compete in the SenioRITAs tennis tournament last weekend (Oct. 20-22) at the Sawgrass Country Club to benefit breast cancer research.
The tournament, in its 18th year, was the first women’s tennis tournament in Northeast Florida. All proceeds from the event go to breast cancer research at Mayo Clinic and to Baptist Medical Center Beaches for patient services.
“Last year we made a little over $100,000, and I think we’re going to do even better this year,” said Karen Aaro, co-chair of the SenioRITAs. “We’re an all-volunteer committee of 33 people, so all the proceeds go to research. We have very little overhead.”
The RITA (Research is the Answer) Foundation is a Jacksonville-based nonprofit, and 21 years ago, Charles Jantz started the RITA women’s tennis tournament to help raise money for local breast cancer research programs. Sawgrass member Mary Pappas decided to create the SenioRITAs tournament, which is open to women age 40 and above.
“It levels the playing field,” said Aaro, who also competed in the tournament.
Planning for the tennis tournament began in April, and it’s just the finale of a busy Breast Cancer Awareness Month event schedule for the SenioRITAs. The group also held a kick-off party attended by more than 200 people on Oct. 3 at Pussers, and held live and silent auctions on Oct. 18, at Sawgrass.
For many of the women participating in the SenioRITAs tennis tournament, however, the cause took on a personal meaning.
“There are many survivors out there playing,” Aaro said. “There are many people who lost a loved one, and they’re out there playing for them. It touches so many people at this point that we all know somebody or have had a personal experience with breast cancer.”
For more information on the SenioRITAs and the organization’s events, go to www.the-rita-foundation.org/senioritas or visit the SenioRITAs Facebook page.