Tennis and bocce players rally for the heart

Annual fundraiser event for Kelowna General Hospital takes place Sept. 16 an 17.

  • Aug. 12, 2016 5:00 a.m.

For the 15th consecutive year

For the 15th consecutive year, tennis enthusiasts are invited to get set for the Celebrity Tennis and Bocce by the Lake event, a celebration of community and sport to benefit Kelowna General Hospital.

This year, the event takes place Sept. 16 and 17.

Over the past 14 years, the event has raised  $700,000 to advance cardiac care and rehabilitation services at KGH.

The event, hosted at the Lightbody residence in Kelowna, has become a tradition in the local tennis community.  Money raised will be directed towards specific, live-saving equipment for the new Interior Heart and Surgical Centre at KGH, as well as exercise equipment at the C.O.A.C.H. cardiac rehabilitation program.  The intention behind the gift is to enhance prevention, health and wellness for those living with heart disease in the region.

Walley Lightbody 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 July 21 after a courageous battle with cancer.

“The Lightbodys are such an inspiration,” said event organizer, Bettina Muller, with the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.  “Their generosity is incredibly heart-warming.  We feel very privileged to be a part of this event.”

Each year in mid-September, the Lightbodys turn over their property as well as the courts of the Okanagan Mission Tennis Club to tennis and bocce enthusiasts from across the Okanagan.  Participants and spectators enjoy lively action over two days of play.

Also in keeping with tradition, event organizers will be recognizing two individuals for their contributions to the local tennis community.

This year, Johnny Vesterinen and Paul Byrne will be honoured for their work with tennis youth, passion for the sport and their musical talents that have been shared over many years.

The event launches on Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. with top level tennis competition followed by a wine & cheese, sponsored by local wineries, breweries and the Coast Capri Hotel.  Opening ceremonies will feature live music and the Kelowna Pipe Band to set the festive tone for the weekend.

Bocce players are encouraged to play in the Capozzi Family Bocce Championship on Saturday, Sept. 17.

An event banquet will be held on Saturday evening at the Coast Capri Hotel with musical entertainment by Anna Jacyszyn and her trio, and Paul and Johnny sharing some tunes.  There will also be a silent auction, bigger and better than ever before, and raffle for extraordinary vacation getaways.

Al proceed donations will be given to the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.

Registration for tennis and bocce players is now open, with spectators and guests also able to purchase day passes and dinner tickets now.  Register online at kghfoundation.com by Tuesday, Sept.13.

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