What began in 2005 as a small event started by a single tennis player and filling just 13 courts at her club has grown to include nine south Charlotte tennis clubs, 100 courts and 800 female participants.
Avid tennis player and Donna Branham, 46, of Weddington is the founder and event coordinator of the Bosom Buddies Benefit Clinic, held annually in south Charlotte.
An active member of the Weddington Swim & Racket Club, Branham came to realize that nearly all the 60 female tennis players in her league were affected by or knew someone touched by breast cancer.
"My mother-in-law is a 50-year breast cancer survivor and, sadly, it seemed to be an issue that affected most of (my tennis partners). I wanted to do something good for people in the community," Branham said.
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Branham created a fundraiser that offered both a fun day of noncompetitive tennis clinics and breast cancer research and prevention education: "Last year we raised over $50,000, and 100 percent of proceeds benefited the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization and Ann's Fund."
Ann's Fund was started by Carolinas Medical Center in honor of NewsChannel 36 reporter Ann Sheridan, a breast cancer survivor who chronicled her diagnosis and treatment via a well-received series of news segments. The fund provides mammograms to local women in need.
This year, Sheridan; Gloria Scienski, executive director of the Charlotte affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; and representatives from event sponsor Charlotte Radiology Breast Center will give keynote addresses at different Bosom Buddies events. In addition to "raising funds to help women in need, individuals learn about breast health awareness during a time of year other than October," which is breast cancer awareness month, Scienski said.
This year's Bosom Buddies event will be May 18 at the following clubs: Blakeney Racquet Club, Providence Country Club, Carmel Country Club, Raintree Country Club, Charlotte Indoor, Rock Hill Tennis Center, Firethorne Country Club, Sardis Swim & Racquet Club, Olde Providence Racquet Club and Weddington Swim & Racquet Club, the founding club.
"This event means the world to me," Branham said. "The clinics are fun, and tennis pros from all around donate their time to this event. We even have college coaches driving in from Appalachian State University, UNC Greensboro and UNC Charlotte."