Celebrating Arthur Ashe, and Arthur Ashe Kids’ Days

Tomorrow marks the start of the the US Open in Flushing Meadows Park, in Queens, New York, which means yesterday was  Arthur Ashe Kids’Day.

The annual kick-off event for the US Open since 1993, it’s a combination tennis-entertainment-charity event that commemorates tennis legend Ashe’s commitment to reach, and help kids through tennis.

Free events make up the first part of the day, where kids can attend tennis clinics, play on the courts, meet some of the pros, and enjoy other kid-centric activities.

Tickets for the afternoon entertainment, a concert held in Arthur Ashe stadium are modestly priced at $10.00-20.00. This year recording artists Carly Rae Jepson, and the group The Wanted played to a sellout crowd.

Ashe was unquestionably a talented player and a trailblazer, but he always used his celebrity as a means to help enrich others,  address and end inequalities.

When winnings were not on par with the explosion of growth in the industry, he supported the formation of the Professional Tennis Association.

When denied a visa-preventing him from competing in the South African Open-he used it to call attention to apartheid. Later, after his retirement from the pros, he co-founded the National Junior Tennis Association.

Arthur Ashe passed away in February 1993 from AIDS-related pnemonia, after contracting the disease from a blood transfusion during heart surgery in 1983.

He announced his illness to the world in 1992, and even in the last year of his life, did what he could to call attention to AIDS sufferers world-wide. After his death, his body lay in state in the Govener’s Mansion in Virginia, where he was born….an honor last bestowed on Stonewall Jackson, during the Civil War.

He is the kind of person I wished I had been more aware of while he was alive, but every year this event helps keep our memory of this kind and extraordinary man-and his dreams for a better world- bright.

During his life he said a number of simple, yet profound things, this is one of my favorites.

               “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”