Star-studded tennis match to benefit Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s San Diego Chapter

Event committee (L-R): Laurel Smith of Solana Beach, Susan von Posern of Solana Beach and Janet McCulley of Rancho Santa Fe. Not pictured: Debra Hart of Solana Beach, Patty Leitch of Del Mar and Dawn Levine of Laguna Beach. Courtesy Photo

By Kristina Houck

More than one million Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, two painful conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

To raise awareness about these conditions and funds for research, the Mylan World TeamTennis has named the local chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America as a beneficiary of the San Diego Aviators’ opening match against the Austin Aces July 7 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego.

Led by Slovak tennis player Daniela Hantuchová, the San Diego Aviators will compete against the Austin Aces, featuring retired American professional tennis player Andy Roddick. The event kicks off the coed professional tennis team’s 2014 schedule.

“Raising awareness for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — that otherwise stay in the closet — is imperative if we are going to raise the money and the interest necessary to reach a cure,” said Susan von Posern, who serves as committee chair for “Rally for Cures,” a reception that will take place just before the match in the VIP Players Lounge. A Solana Beach resident since 1997, von Posern also serves as a board member and general counsel of the local chapter. “You may not think that you know somebody who’s impacted by these diseases, but you probably do.”

An estimated 1.4 million Americans suffer from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, conditions that can cause diarrhea, bleeding, cramps and fatigue. Approximately 16,000 people suffer from one of the two conditions in San Diego County, said Carly Bazzett, the San Diego chapter’s executive director, who is also a Solana Beach resident.

Many patients must take drugs with serious side effects or undergo surgery. No cure exists for either condition, both of which fall under the umbrella of inflammatory bowel diseases.

“A misconception is that it’s a bathroom disease, when really, it’s a debilitating physical condition,” Bazzett said. “It may require multiple hospitalizations and surgeries, and it can lead to other complications.”

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation is a nationwide organization dedicated to funding research and providing support to patients. Launched in 1980, the local chapter holds a number of fundraising events each year, and also helps patients and their families through educational forums, support groups and other services.

Last year, the chapter raised about $900,000 for the cause. This year, the chapter is on pace to raise more than $1 million, Bazzett said.

“The money you donate stays here,” said Bazzett, whose grandmother was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

The “Rally for Cures” reception begins at 5:30 p.m. July 7 in the VIP Players Lounge at Valley View Casino Center, located at 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. in San Diego. Doors open at 5 p.m.

The match begins at 7 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $25-$200.

“It’s a fun, unique way to raise money, bring friends together and have a fun evening,” Bazzett said.

For more information about the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America or the local chapter, visit www.ccfa.org or www.ccfa.org/chapters/sandiego/.

To purchase tickets, donate auction items or purchase auction items, or learn about sponsorships opportunities visit www.rallyforcures.org.


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