The Homeland Racquet Club in Lutherville will host a weekend tennis tournament on May 19 and 20 to benefit the R Baby Foundation, an organization committed to making sure every emergency room in the country is prepared to give babies and children lifesaving care.
The foundation was formed 11 years ago in New York after Andrew and Phyllis Rabinowitz’s 9-day-old daughter Rebecca died from a treatable viral infection, which was misdiagnosed by an ER pediatrician as a common cold. Within six weeks of Rebecca’s death, the Rabinowitzes founded R Baby, and in the 11 years since, the foundation has raised more than $10 million to improve pediatric emergency care.
Phyllis Rabinowitz, who was raised in Pikesville and was a member of Beth Tfiloh, recruited a lifelong friend, Lisa Asher, and her still- local parents, Brenda and Henry Belsky, to organize the Maryland tennis event to benefit local hospitals.
For Asher, who was pregnant with her own daughter at the time of Rebecca’s death, her friends’ loss hit close to home, and left her with a sense of hopelessness.
“There’s nothing I can do to change what happened,” she said, but has since made her personal mission to help support R Baby’s in any way she can. R Baby’s Maryland chapter has helped generate more than $400,000 for programs in the state, including the Rebecca Ava Rabinowitz Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
This is the first year R Baby will offer a junior tennis tournament in addition to the typical men’s invitational pro tournament.
“We have kids playing from ages 10 to 18, all levels,” said Asher. “This is a charity to benefit the young, so I thought it would be fun to add that element to the event.”
The tennis tournaments, in their fifth year, typically raise around $50,000 to fund the development of Sim-mobiles, a service that visits area hospitals to evaluate ER preparedness for the specific healthcare needs of infants and children by simulating infant emergencies.
“The tournaments have been fabulous,” said Phyllis. “They’re so full of energy and support. The community in Baltimore is so special, and I’m humbled by all the local support R Baby has down there.”
On a national level, R Baby has not only funded pediatric emergency training for hospitals around the country, but also recently developed a pediatric upgrade to findERnow, an app that locates the closest ER through a comprehensive national database.
“We funded the pediatric version,” said Phyllis. “We’re getting great feedback from mommy bloggers. It’s such a valuable resource for parents no matter where they’re traveling.”