Rallying for the Heart

For the 15th consecutive year, tennis and bocce enthusiasts rallied for a cause close to their hearts at the Celebrity Tennis and Bocce by the Lake event.

2016-kgh-bocce-and-tennis-day-cheque-550-x-350This year, the tournament, which took place in September, raised an incredible $54,000 bringing the cumulative amount raised over the past 15 years to over $750,000 to support cardiac care in the Southern Interior region.  An additional $5,000 was also donated to the cause by the folks at Northside Industries, sponsors of the silent auction.

Monies raised will be directed towards specific, live-saving equipment for the new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at Kelowna General Hospital, as well as exercise equipment at the C.O.A.C.H. cardiac rehabilitation program.  The aim is to enhance prevention, health and wellness for those living with heart disease in the region.

The event has become a tradition in the local tennis community.  Hosted by the Lightbody family, the tournament attracts tennis and bocce players from across the Okanagan, even coming from as far as the Lower Mainland.  “We’ve all been playing together for years and we really enjoy the friendly, competitive spirit of this tournament,” said Gordy Charles, a key organizer of the event.  “Even the rain doesn’t bring us down!  But we are very grateful to Global Fitness Centre for accommodating us.”

Walley and his wife, Marietta, are well known in Kelowna for their effervescent spirit and commitment to philanthropy.  This year, there is a special sentiment surrounding the event, as the community celebrates the life and legacy of Marietta, who passed away peacefully on July 21 after a courageous battle with cancer.

“This event really is a celebration of community and sport,” noted Bettina Muller, Events & Projects Coordinator for the KGH Foundation.  “We are so grateful to Walley (Lightbody) and Gordy, and all the event organizers and participants.  The funds they raise are so important to our cardiac program at KGH.”

In keeping with tradition, event organizers recognized two individuals for their contributions to the local tennis community.  This year, Johnny Vesterinen and Paul Byrne were honored for their work with tennis youth, passion for the sport and their musical talents shared over many years.