Teenager Holds Fundraiser For Troops
Photo: Michael Schumer meets with Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund President, David Winters, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum following the tournament.
By Drew Budd for The Southampton Press
Michael Schumer has a passion for two things: tennis and supporting U.S. troops. So when he was trying to come up with an event to raise money for America’s heroes, he could think of no better way than a round-robin tennis tournament.
Schumer, a 14-year-old from Muttontown who spends his summers with his family in Westhampton Beach, held his fundraiser, Points For Patriots, at Le Club Tennis in Westhampton Beach on Saturday to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Schumer and the 30 players who competed in the tournament raised a commendable $15,000 in the single-day event.
“As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, we are reminded of the day that changed our lives forever,” Schumer said in a letter to local businesses. “It seems the secure future of our nation will require more and more military personnel to be deployed, increasing the risk of children losing a parent in combat. I want to be able to give back to the people who protect us and hosting a charity tennis tournament is the best way I know how.”
Barbara Helkowski won the co-ed tournament, while Cole Korponay placed second and Lisa Tutunjian placed third.
Schumer is a ranked junior member of the U.S. Tennis Association and plays on the varsity team at Jericho High School. He will be entering his sophomore year next month.
Schumer said he had thought about putting together a fundraiser for a while, but when he finally got his idea off the ground, it only took two to three weeks to get everything coordinated for the fundraiser. Schumer said he was able to secure a number of sponsors, including the United States Tennis Association, and he said he plans on making it an annual event.
“We’ve had a lot of support, especially from local politicians,” he said. “It’s been great.”
Happy Bhalla, tennis director at Le Club Tennis for the past eight years and at Quogue Racquet Club for 10 years before that, said he was a little surprised that a 14-year-old contacted him to run a charity event. But Bhalla was impressed with how smoothly everything went.
“Any charity event that comes across, we’re always trying to help out,” he said. “[Schumer] wanted to pay for the course, but I said it’s no big deal. I offered him my help but he did everything on his own. It was great.”
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, established in 2000, has provided more than $120 million to the families of military personnel lost in service and for severely wounded service members and veterans. The organization is funded entirely by donations from the public.
Details of Points For Patriots can be found on Facebook and donations can also be made directly at www.fallenheroesfund.org.