(Submitted by June Freeman)- Ocean Pines platform tennis hosted a fundraising tournament on Saturday, Sept. 29 and raised over $8,500.00 for wounded veterans Catch A Lift. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2010 with the purpose of helping post-9/11 combat wounded veterans throughout the United States to recover both physically and mentally. CAL was founded in memory of Chris Coffland who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2009. Chris’s sister Lynn Coffland founded the organization; his father Dave Coffland, resident of Ocean Pines, is still active and committed to helping raise funds for Catch A Lift’s mission towards “changing bodies, healing minds, and saving lives”.
Sixty-four players from five surrounding states gathered together to support this worthy cause. The camaraderie, respect for the cause, and genuine caring were inspiring. Dave and Toni Coffland, parents of Chris Coffland, stayed all day and witnessed this tribute to their son. Co-chair of the fundraising tournament Sue Walter stated, “There are so many worthy causes that it’s sometimes difficult to decide which one is more deserving than another. But being a patriot, loving this county, and our flag, I feel that any man or woman who puts their life on hold, let alone is willing to give their life for me and the United States – a veteran and especially a wounded veteran – will always be my first choice to volunteer for raising money and awareness in their honor.”
Sunshine, a cool breeze, and seventy-degree weather made for a good day. Chairperson Mike Petito stated, “I am overjoyed and very proud at the outcome of this incredible event. The play was fantastic and our volunteers made this tournament a huge success.” Talent, speed, and high level of play made for exciting matches which lasted throughout the day. Men’s first place winners of the main draw were Brian Phoebus and Reed Hagmann and second place winners were Lindsey Hargrave and Russ Taylor. Women’s first place winners of the main draw were Laurie Hissey and Tracy Wing and second place winners were Susan Stipa and Dottie Hart.
Vital to the success of this event was the generosity of the many sponsors. A total of seventy- five businesses and individuals donated to Catch A Lift organization. Over a week after the fundraising tournament has ended, to the delight of all, generous donations are still streaming in. The top donors included Celeste Rault, Chesapeake Utilities, Delmarva Power, Pohanka of Salisbury, Inc., Sharp Energy, and New Wave.
Also, critical to the success of the CAL fundraising tournament was the dedication and commitment of the many volunteers and players. Mike Petito explained, “I first started planning the tournament in April. First meeting with the OPPTA for permission, then getting volunteers to form a committee. The hardest part was going door-to-door with my wife to the many businesses in Ocean Pines, Ocean City, and West Ocean City for donations. Sue Walter my second chair did a fantastic job with paperwork and soliciting online. And Vin and Susan Morris worked very hard to organize the play.”
President of platform tennis Jim Freeman summed it when stating,” The platform tennis family is an amazing and fantastic group of people. They love their sport and they are always ready to step up for an honorable and deserving cause like Catch A Lift.”