MELBOURNE, Australia - Last year, the tennis family lost Brad Drewett - the ATP World Tour's CEO - to Motor Neurone Disease. Now, the WTA's former Vice President of Player Relations and On Site Operations, Angie Cunningham, has been diagnosed with the disease and is trying to fight through it.
But with no known cause, effective treatment or cure, laughter can be the best medicine.
The Laugh To Cure Motor Neurone Disease campaign has been launched to not only raise awareness about the disease, but to raise money for research to help find a cure in a positive and uplifting way.
During this year's Australian Open, the tennis family will come together and bring you fun videos of the players showing special skills, singing a song or just telling a story about the funniest thing that ever happened to them during their career. The videos will all be posted on the campaign's official website, www.laughtocuremnd.com, and the funniest ones will also air on Channel 7's Happy Slam coverage.
You can donate right on the campaign's website - all funds raised will be donated to the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia, with the goal of $100,000 to fund a new research study.
Motor Neurone Disease is a group of neurological diseases that affects the voluntary muscles in the body, which control activities like speaking, walking, swallowing and general movement. It progresses over time, causing debilitating disability and eventually death. The life expectancy is two to three years.
There's no known cause for the disease but there's a high occurrence in athletes. In the US the disease is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, after the famous baseball player who died from it.
On Saturday night in Melbourne there was a special event hosted by Pat and Angie Cunningham at their home to launch the campaign, with a number of former WTA players in attendance - Janet Young, Rennae Stubbs, Alicia Molik, Barbara Schett and Nicole Pratt, and others from the tennis family like Paul Kilderry, Josh Eagle and Judy Murray. Also, Peter Johnston gave a speech on behalf of the WTA.