‘Serve it Forward’ event benefits Be Like Brit Foundation

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Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com and The Be Like Brit Foundation, both Delray Beach-based entities, recently partnered to present “Serve it Forward,” an official event on the October-long Do Good Delray series.

All “Serve it Forward” matches were played exclusively on Stadium Court at Delray Beach’s downtown tennis center, which is home to some of the most memorable matches of the 2021 ATP Tour professional tennis season.

The Do Good Delray (Partner with Purpose) is Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce’s new annual partnership initiative as they desire to see increased collaboration between their profit and nonprofit members. The chamber created a month of opportunities aimed at growing both friends and funds in a fun, creative way, and the “Serve it Forward” event was one of 14 that took place during the month.

“Partnering with Be Like Brit on Serve It Forward was an opportunity beyond what we originally anticipated,” said John Butler, executive director of Delray Beach Open.

Britney “Brit” Gengel was 19 when she traveled to Haiti with Lynn University for a service trip. Upon her arrival, she was overwhelmed by the devastating poverty and need visible everywhere.

She was so moved that she sent this text to her mother while volunteering there: “They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and work so hard to get nowhere, yet they are so appreciative. I want to move here and start an orphanage myself.”

Shortly after sending that text, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 300,000 people, including Britney. In her memory, The Be Like Brit Foundation was started.

For two years, a 19,000-square-foot earthquake-proof, non-adoptive orphanage was built in Grand Goave, Haiti — the town where Brit was supposed to travel to the day after the earthquake — in the shape of the letter “B” to honor Britney’s last wish. Be Like Brit is now raising the next generation of leaders in Haiti through education, community outreach and individualized support.

“It’s one thing to read about the program and the background,” Butler said, “but to then meet the Gengel family and the actual program operators who came up from Haiti to be part of the event, and to hear Britney’s father share their story with everyone…It became an honor and a privilege to be affiliated with their amazing work.”

A total of 75 people attended the event and about $4,800 was raised, according to Butler. All proceeds benefitted The Be Like Brit Foundation.

Butler said the unique format helped the social atmosphere of the event.

“Tennis was played in jai alai-scoring format so there was lots of action and playing different teams while allowing ample time to drink and nosh on the killer provisions,” Butler said.

Participants were treated to brunch featuring provisions by Sundy House, American Icon Brewery, Los Bocados, Dano’s Tequila and wines by Napa Valley’s ONEHOPE Wine. Networking was also part of the mix with IThink Financial, the main sponsor of the event, talking shop between serves and returns.

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“This partnership is an exciting next step in highlighting all that Delray has to offer within the stadium court,” said Diana Rosayn, marketing director of The Be Like Brit Foundation. “We aim to show that doing good is fun and are so incredibly grateful for the Delray Open for the opportunity to feature local businesses while benefitting the children at Brit’s Home.”

The Delray Beach Open is the only tournament in the world featuring an ATP Champions Tour event and an ATP Tour event in the same week at the same venue. The 10-day tennis party takes place in Delray Beach Feb. 11 to 20 at the Delray Beach Stadium and Tennis Center, winner of the USTA’s 2021 Outstanding Tennis Facility Award.

The ATP Tour’s first North American hard court event of the outdoor season is one of just 10 ATP Tour events in the United States. Next year will be its 24th year in Delray Beach, and 30th overall.

The three-day ATP Champions Tour team event is in its 13th year and was the first-ever ATP Champions Tour event played on U.S. soil.

Each year the Delray Beach Open brings world-class tennis players and thousands of visitors to Delray Beach and Palm Beach County. In 2010, the tournament received the Discover The Palm Beaches Florida’s annual Providencia Award for its contribution to tourism. The city of Delray Beach was also a finalist for the USTA’s Best Tennis Town’ Award, and in 2003, the tournament was the recipient of the ATP Award of Excellence.

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