It’s a story of sibling synergy and pint-sized philanthropy. From the time she was 5 years old, Mattigan Kelly followed in her brother Crofton’s footsteps as an avid tennis player, and then, in charity work
When the child of a neighboring family was diagnosed with cancer, the cheering impact of the gifts that child received from The Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation made a big impression on Crofton, who at age 8 decided he wanted to organize a fundraiser for the charity, himself.
“So he went out and did it,” says Mattigan. “The first year, the Annual Tennis Fun Fest was at a park, but then after that, our tennis coach Tom Cahill, director of the Hinsdale Racquet Club, stepped up to help find the pros and host the event, which gave it a bigger impact.”
“Tom coached three of our four kids in tennis at the Hinsdale Racquet Club and acted as a mentor to both Crofton and now Mattigan with this event,” says Alison Kelly, Mattigan’s mom. “His input has been invaluable.”
Every year, from the time Crofton was 8 until he was 18, he organized the fest with Cahill’s help, raising more than $5,000 for the charity each time, for a cumulative $54,000 over the last ten years. Tallies for last month’s event, dubbed Mattigan’s 12th Annual Tennis Fun Fest at the Hinsdale Racquet Club, promise to be right in line with those figures.
As she grew, Mattigan did what she could to help her brother out, stepping up to head the event herself when Crofton went to college last year, and keeping it going.
“I watched and learned from Crofton’s experience,” says Mattigan. “But until I fully took it on, I didn’t realize just how much he put into it. Working on getting pros to volunteer, getting donations, and marketing the event takes a lot of time.”
Adding a little sibling rivalry to the mix, Mattigan set out to increase attendance and donations, “to beyond even what Crofton achieved,” she says, smiling.
Thus far, she’s doing it—donations of $6,250 last year were the highest yet, maintaining the Tennis Fun Fest’s status as one of the Treasure Chest’s top donors. To get there, Mattigan opened the tennis play and games during the event to adults for the first time in 2015, and, this year, added a silent auction with such as autographed pictures donated by the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a signed photo of Addison Russell from Cubs Cares, and autographed Toews and Kane Jerseys from the Chicago Blackhawks.
As in previous years, those who came to the event had the chance to play tennis games, drills and doubles with ten top area tennis pros who donate their time for the event. There was be a raffle, and, people who signed-up to participate in the “Rally for a Cure” hit against a pro.
“It was a great opportunity to challenge themselves while contributing toward an awesome cause,” Mattigan says. “It’s such a crazy good feeling at the end when the event finally comes together and so many people have benefitted from it. Everybody who comes enjoys it so much.”
Through doing this work, Mattigan has also had the opportunity to visit the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. where they set up a “Crofton’s Tennis Fun Fest” Treasure Chest.
“I saw the kids with cancer pick toys from the chest after their treatments,” she adds. “It’s huge, how much the toys really cheer them up.”
For more information about Mattigan’s 12th Annual Tennis Fun Fest, Saturday, August 12th, Hinsdale Racquet Club, 5730 S Grant St, Hinsdale, IL call (708) 319-5335. Tickets, $20. Silent auction: www.32auctions.com/TENNISFUNFEST2017.