‘To give. Laugh. Love.’ Sally Wilkey’s generous spirit lives on – 32963 Features, People

The howl of laughter echoed along 14th Avenue during a “Give. Laugh. Love.” fundraiser at the Heritage Center to benefit the Sally Wilkey Foundation featuring comedian Gina Brillon casting her laughing thoughts on life.

Guests enjoyed cocktails before heading inside for the show and dinner prepared by Elizabeth D. Kennedy & Co.’s shared “love” of the game of tennis.

The foundation was established in honor of Sally Wilkey, an avid tennis player and Saint Edward’s School graduate who lost her battle with brain cancer three years ago. Known for her generous spirit and zest for life, Sally’s mother, SWF President Jane Wilkey, said the event was a play on the motivational phrase “Live.” Love. Laugh.”

“My daughter lived every moment to the fullest and always had a smile on her face. She was kind and sweet and had a really good laugh. ‘Live. Love. Laugh.’ is something I always think about when I think of her,” Wilkey shared.

After her daughter’s death, Wilkey said people started giving her checks to support Sally’s many philanthropic activities. “It was a lot of money. We decided to start the foundation so we could fund tennis lessons for kids at the Hope for Families Center,” Wilkey explained.

Their goal is to enrich the lives of underserved youth on and off the court through tennis instruction, academic support and life skills development. Currently, the foundation runs a free clinic on Saturdays for about 30 children from local advocacy organizations and homeless shelters, where children are supervised, receive help with homework, play tennis and eat lunch. .

Proceeds from the fundraiser, along with donations and sponsorships, will enable SWF to host a four-week tennis camp in June at the Vero Beach Tennis and Fitness Club, where kids will play tennis, swim and will have lunch.

“Parents won’t have to pay for childcare or any other kind of camps, so they can go to work without worrying about the kids. They will be happy and safe for the month of June,” Wilkey said.

“This will be the first year we’ve been able to offer a summer camp for kids,” Wilkey said.

The previous two years they provided funds for children to attend other summer programs.

Ultimately, over the next five years they would like to have a permanent location and expand the program to include after school tennis. In the meantime, if the children they work with are transported to an after-school program, SWF will cover the cost of that program.

“Tennis is something that has been a really good outlet and a really good sport for my family. My dad is a professional tennis player. He’s 88 and still travels around the world,” Wilkey said.

His brother and sister were also professional tennis players.

She noted that tennis teaches discipline, commitment and social skills, and can be played anywhere, with others or just hitting balls alone.

“It’s a great way to keep fit and clear your mind,” Wilkey said.

For more information, visit sallywilkeyfoundation.org.

Photos by Kaila Jones and provided

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