Telford Still Raising The Fundraising Bar
Published August 04, 2010 12:00
GAINESVILLE, FL, USA - In early 2002, Tom Telford struggled for oxygen with every breath. He had a constant raspy cough and moved his body very minimally with fatigue. Telford had pulmonary fibrosis and needed a lung transplant. It was his only chance, and it was a slim one, with only a 50 percent survival rate after five years. Telford got his lung transplant in Gainesville, Florida, at Shands Hospital. Afterwards, his oxygen intake climbed and life came back to the University of Florida engineering graduate of 1963.
Since then Telford has poured his efforts into fundraising for lung transplant research, and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players are rallying right behind him - and it has all had a $1 million pay-off.
Five years after his lung transplant, Telford, along with former world No.1 doubles players Rennae Stubbs and Corina Morariu, hosted the Charity Tennis Classic in Gainesville to raise funds for lung transplant research. There was a clinic, exhibition with the pros and benefit dinner highlighted by two key note speakers, Stubbs and Florida Speaker of the House Larry Cretul.
All together they raised $62,000 for Shands Hospital's lung transplant division. Telford said, "It was a step in the right direction, but it was a small step, and I knew I wanted to do more."
Telford continued to find ways to bring light to his cause and effective July 1, 2010 his work with Stubbs and Morariu finally paid off. The Florida Legislature passed the state's FY 2010-2011 budget with a $1 million appropriation for UF's lung transplantation program.
Stubbs, who has had personal contact with someone who had a lung transplant, was truly touched when she found out her efforts helped to make such a big difference: "It was with great pride I participated in the exhibition at the University of Florida to help raise funds and awareness for lung transplants. It is with even greater pride now, knowing this amazing cause has come to fruition in such a big way with the help and dedication of so many involved."
Morariu, a cancer survivor, has always found ways to help give back because she knows how important fundraising is: "I have been a direct beneficiary of numerous advances made in medical research. These advances are made possible by the countless hours spent by tireless volunteers dedicated to raising money to help people in need."
Telford says he could not have done it without the help of the Tour and its players. He is still an instrumental part of the initiative, working with the hospital's management to ensure the money goes to the right places.
Telford will turn 70 in a few weeks. He recently purchased his Gator season football tickets and remains active through his work with Shands Hospital.
"Those doctors saved my life, but it isn't like that for everyone. I am extremely excited with our progress and look forward to keeping this initiative going."