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By Nenad N. Bach | Published  10/21/2004 | Charity | Unrated



By Katarina Tepesh

In the 1980's Andrea Jaeger was a tennis phenomenon - she turned pro at the age of 14 and was the #2 ranked female tennis player in the world. When, at the age of 19, a career-ending injury set her on a new path, Andrea gave her earnings and pension to co-found The Silver Lining Foundation, benefiting children with life threatening illnesses.

This year, Andrea released autobiography, "FIRST SERVICE - Following God's Calling and Finding Life's Purpose"

"In our nonprofit organization, in one of our many programs, children participate in weeklong sessions at our 18,000-square-foot permanent facility, built in Aspen specifically for children with life threatening illnesses. For these youngsters, weary of sterile hospitals, painful procedures, and the loneliness and trauma of dealing with a life-threatening disease like cancer, the Ranch and activities provide a welcome relief amid the beauty and serenity of the Colorado Rockies. While some children are from loving families with great community and parental support, others arrive from foster care and harsh, broken family environments. We help children find peace, have fun and share similarity of their experiences with fellow cancer patients," says Andrea.

Part of Andrea's team is also another former tennis player MAJA MURIC, born in Zagreb, in 1974. Since 1995, Maja serves as the International Program Coordinator and camp videographer at the foundation.

"In 1994 when I met Maja at the Hilton Head, South Carolina, Maja spent the evening passionately describing why the programs were needed in her native country. She told me of bombings, mortar shells and sniper shootings, and how this had an effect on the country's children. The exclusive vacation environment of Hilton Head Island was a far cry from her homeland - war-battered cities with buildings that were reduced to rubble; hospitals lacking basic supplies; shortages in food and clothing - but Maja refused to forget the children so desperately in need. Maja felt assured I was going to be someone who could help make a difference," recalls Andrea.

Equally important, Maja told Andrea her own deeply painful story. "Maja's mother had tried to abort her when she found out she was pregnant with her. The abortion plan didn't work and Maja's entry into the world was not very welcomed by her natural family. Maja's mom left her when she was eight and Maja's dad soon after that, even though he stayed in her life in some ways. Maja's grandparents raised her, but it was still not a good situation. Maja was severely abused by her father - whenever he was around - throughout her childhood and adolescence. The experiences were so traumatic that she blocked many of them out in order to survive. Despite all the pain and suffering she endured, her spirit was never broken. Maja had a heart as big as a mountain."

By autumn of 1994, Maja and Andrea arrived in Zagreb to deliver medical supplies, clothing and toys in excess of $50,000 to give to children in Croatia and Bosnia. The cargo vessel was paid by GORAN IVANISEVIC.

For international children's programs, please send your tax-deductible donations to: Little Stars, PO Box 11569, Aspen, Colorado 81612. Federal Tax ID is: 86-0947944


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