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Proceeds from Shady Side Academy students' tennis event benefit juvenile diabetes research

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:21 p.m.
Shady Side Academy students participate in tennis fund raiser 'Swing For A Cure.'  From left are Madison Mordoh, Emma Perelman and Amanda Murphy.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
The Herald
Shady Side Academy students participate in tennis fund raiser 'Swing For A Cure.' From left are Madison Mordoh, Emma Perelman and Amanda Murphy. Jan Pakler | for The Herald

There's no cure for juvenile diabetes just yet, but three Shady Side Academy students keep swinging for it.

Emma Perelman, Amanda Murphy and Madison Mordoh, varsity tennis standouts, will hit the courts on Sunday to raise money for the disease that strikes an average of one in every 400 children.

Swing for a Cure will see a full day of tennis clinics for children ages 4 to 13, all to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

It will be held at the Mellon Park tennis bubble in Pittsburgh's East End section.

“I have family members with diabetes so I know exactly what they go through,” said Murphy, a junior from Fox Chapel who first picked up a racquet when she was just 6 years old.

“I want to do my part to help and what better way than with the sport I love?”

In the event's sixth year, the trio is hoping to break previous fundraising totals of about $6,000 a year.

So far, they've aced it.

With about $8,000 already pledged, this year is the most successful since the event was started by Perelman's sister, Sara, who now plays NCAA Division I tennis at Cornell University.

“Their cousin was diagnosed at 4 years old,” said the Perelmans' mother, Susie. “Sara was looking for a way to give back and that was within her passion.

“The event was a hit and it felt so good. It's been nice to watch it grow.”

Juvenile Diabetes, or Type 1, is suspected to affect as many as three million Americans.

It is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin, which is needed to transform food into energy.

People with diabetes have to test their blood sugar several times a day and balance the levels with insulin.

Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults — about 80 people a day — are diagnosed.

The rate of Type 1 Diabetes among children is estimated to increase by 3 percent a year, according to the JDRF.

Since it was founded in 1970, the JDRF has given more than $1.7 billion to diabetes research and awareness.

Emma Perelman, a freshman, loved the idea of taking the event reins.

“It's very meaningful for me because of my cousin. I want to help him,” said Emma, ranked in the Top-12 players in the Middle States region and No. 1 player on the SSA team this past fall.

“I'm glad this event can be a continuous thing.”

Madison Mordoh, a junior from Fox Chapel, said working with the children is rewarding.

“It is a great way to teach them and to get involved with the community,” she said.

On March 3, the girls will impart their love of the game to more than 40 aspiring athletes and they hope that their off-the-court work will be just as inspiring. The trio plan to hand out educational materials to parents and visitors in hopes of raising diabetes awareness.

“We'll give out information to the parents but we keep the clinic strictly fun for the kids,” Emma said.

Pittsburgh Citiparks donated the courts at Mellon Park along Fifth Avenue to offset costs of the event. Tennis veteran Tom Mercer will be on-hand to assist with the sessions and local tennis pro Aldene LaCaria has secured an autographed Roger Federer cap from the 2013 Australian Open to raffle.

“I'm hoping the kids learn to love the sport,” Emma said. “It's something you can play throughout your life.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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