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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sister Andrea

I remember Sister Andrea. When I first heard her name, she was not an Anglican Dominican nun. Instead, she was a 14-year-old Andrea Jaeger, who had won her first professional tennis tournament in 1979.

By age 18, she had reached the final of Wimbledon. By the time she was 19, she had an injured shoulder and basically ended her career. Andrea quit tennis in 1987.

She moved to Tampa, FL, where she tried to work as an operator and later an airline-ticket agent. In 1988, she moved to Aspen to recuperate from a car accident, which had injured her back.

Shortly thereafter, using her own money, including the $1.4 million that was left from her 8 years on the pro tennis tour, she started up the Kid’s Stuff Foundation. This was a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing joy to kids suffering from cancer or other life threatening illnesses.

Jaeger began bringing kids from all over the U.S. to Aspen, CO for a week of camping fishing, swimming, and other outdoor activities. The foundation covered all expenses. Andrea's goal was to give the kids a week where they could forget about their problems and regain a part of their childhood.

I had lost track of Andrea Yeager, until the year 1993. I was living in Argentina and I came across a blurb in Sports Illustrated—one of those “Whatever happened to…” I found out that year, at age 28, the White House was honoring her for her work with the Kid's Stuff Foundation. I read that year she did not own a car, and whatever clothes and jewelry she had was given to her.

Someone asked her where she found her motivation. "You get very spoiled on the tour," she said. "It's easy to forget what's important in life."

In 2006, I read where she became a nun. I don’t agree with the church doctrine of ordaining nuns, but I do find myself inspired by people who show Christ-compassion for “the least of these.” I especially admire those who deny rigorously themselves to fulfill the mission for the sake of the Kingdom. So here’s to you, Sister Andrea. Thanks for sacrificing to bless so many lives.

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