(November 8, 2013) Andrea Jaeger had never met Thousand Oaks resident Kevin Feinbloom before she received an email from him recently, a short time removed from some devastating news Feinbloom had received from his doctors: a diagnosis of Stage 4 Esophageal cancer that came “totally out of the blue.”
Feinbloom, a lifelong tennis player and fan, asked the former WTA world-ranked No. 2-player Jaeger if he could help raise awareness for Jaeger’s Little Star Foundation by putting on a special fundraiser that would also raise funds for children in the Ventura County area with cancer to attend Jaeger’s Colorado camp and facility to receive both short and long-term cancer treatment and care.
The idea for the innaugural Fans In the Stands Foundation Tennis Festival – which is set for Sunday, Nov. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the North Ranch Country Club in Thousand Oaks – actually came about days before Feinbloom reached out to Jaeger after he and his children and some friends had a festive two-hour hit with Thousand Oaks-raised ATP star Sam Querrey.
“I had this dream to go out and play with Sam Querrey so I got ahold of him through a mutual friend and he played and sat with us for two hours,” Feinbloom recalled recently. “And it was the coolest thing ever.”
Feinbloom told Querrey he wanted to do something to help local children with cancer and mentioned the idea about a tennis fundraiser. “He said he’d do whatever and whenever we needed him to do it,” Feinbloom said. “We settled on a date and he said he would bring (former two-time NCAA singles champion) Steve Johnson to play in an exhibition.”
Through another friend, the former Calabasas High tennis player Feinbloom, who grew up playing on the Woodland Hills Warner Center courts under coaches Bob Benton and Bob Hochstadter, was able to reach Jon Lovitz who said he would come and emcee the event. Then he reached out to Jaeger, who said she was able to move some things around in her schedule and wouldn’t miss the event for anything.
“His story and wanting to do something like this really touched me,” Jaeger said over the phone from Colorado. “When I first saw his email, I just sat down and said ‘wow.’ The only thing that’s worse than what Kevin is experiencing is having a kid go through cancer.”
Jaeger’s Little Star Foundation has been helping children deal with the effects of cancer since it was formed in 1990. “The money we raise on Nov. 24 will benefit children from Kevin’s area,” Jaeger said. “To know that you are able to help someone in your own community, from your own neighborhood, it means a lot to us.”
Feinbloom initially thought he would try and raise between $25,000 to $50,000. In a short few weeks, $40,000 has already been raised, and they’re just getting started.
“After a few days of my head spinning around and thinking how I can’t believe what the hell I’m going through, I figured out that instead of sitting back and letting it kick my butt, I better do something,” said Feinbloom, who is married and has two children, son Cole who is 17 and a daughter Julia who is 14. “I’ve been around sports my entire life and coaching my kids and I thought I wanted to do something to help kids with cancer.”
A kids’ clinic (ages 5 to 15) will precede the singles and doubles exhibitions and an opportunity prize pool where you can purchase squares similar to a football pool will raise more funds for the cause. Pete Sampras has already donated an hour-long hitting session, according to Feinbloom.
“The tennis community is a wonderful thing,” he said.
Jaeger said she’s never received an email like the one she received from Feinbloom. “Never in my life,” she said. “I mean, the father has been diagnosed with Stage 4, the same year his wife has had breast cancer treatments, and they have children. And the entire family is involved and the kids are as excited as the parents and they are all saying, ‘We have got to do something here. And there are children who are going through something just like or worse than my family. So let’s do something.’ That has never happened.
“And they love tennis. This is something that has been prominent in their lives. And he didn’t know me. He just knew I loved tennis and I was dedicated to these kids so he reached out to me. Whether I went or not was irrelevant to them so of course I have to be there. He said he was determined this was where the money was going regardless if I came or not.
“Kevin is determined to make a difference, and that’s why we are all gathering together this way.”
You can buy tickets and donate items to the event at www.FansInTheStands.org. The major corporate sponsor is Jaguar Thousand Oaks and Championship-level sponsors include the Melissa Kravetz Memorial Foundation and Steve and Amparo Davis.