Andrea Jaeger: Biography
At age 14, Andrea Jaeger turned pro. She earned $1.4 million during her tennis career. Her career cut short by injury, now she helps dying children.
At 9, Andrea Jaeger played in her first tennis tournament. At 13, she won the Jr. Nationals and Internationals. At 14, Jaeger turned pro, and she reached the finals at Wimbledon while still in her teens. She won $1.4 million during her career, but an injury cut her career short.
Now, however, Jaeger has an even more important mission in life: helping and encouraging dying children. An injury in the 1984 French Open lessened Jaeger's tournament appearances during the next several years. In 1988, she ended her career for good and launched the Kids Stuff Foundation in June 1990. At the first summer camp for children with cancer and other serious illnesses in 1992, Andrea taught tennis, white water rafting, and water basketball.
When the Kids Stuff Foundation had its first summer camp in 1992, Andrea saw children with no hair because of their cancer treatment, on crutches and who often had nobody to encourage them. She started a newsletter to encourage children who often had to wait long periods in the hospital for treatment.
"During my years on the professional tennis tour, visiting children in hospitals was one of my favorite things to do," Jaeger said in a letter on her website for the Silver Lining Foundation.
The Foundation opened the Benedict-Forstmann Silver Lining Ranch at Aspen, Colorado, for Kids Stuff Foundation on June 30, 1999. Aspen residents Fritz and Fahi Benedict had donated ten acres of land for the ranch, land that overlooks mountains, evergreens and wildlife. Ted Forstmann launched the building campaign with a $1.7 million donation.
The ranch hosts children with cancer from America, England and Wales. It has medical facilities, five rooms, a darkroom, jacuzzi and is painted with festive colors to be an encouragement.
Kids Stuff Foundation also has had the Jeff Crawford Scholarship program to help sick children obtain a higher education. At winter sessions children from Denver, Illinois, New York, Iowa and Wisconsin have gone skiing, dog sledding, caroling and had carriage rides. During summer camps, children have gone water rafting, horseback riding, on gondola rides and made lifelong friends. The camps area week long. Some of those who have died found a good friend in Andrea Jaeger. Some participants have then been able to help and encourage others by putting out Jaeger's newsletters.
"I was able to devote all my energy to developing custom-made programs for these special kids," (after her injury) Jaeger recalled on her website. She said her vision is that sick children all over the world can "exchange a sterile hospital environment" and "regain some of their missed childhood."
Some of those who have helped children at Kids Stuff have included actor Kevin Costner and tennis star Monica Sales. For Andrea Jaeger, helping children has proven to be an even more fulfilling career than tennis.