Six-year-old Fisher Ortiz loves hitting baseballs, smacking tennis balls, and climbing high on a jungle gym. However, if he swings too hard, or misses a rung on a ladder, he could break an arm or leg because he was born with a rare disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), also known as “brittle bone disease.” OI is a rare collagen mutation that causes pulmonary and digestive problems, hearing loss, and thin fragile bones. Because of OI, Fisher has had more than 35 fractures in his young life. Right now, he is patiently waiting for his broken leg to mend.
Fisher is a kindergarten student at Potomac Elementary School. He is a student in the Chinese Immersion program; his favorite subjects are the specials, “Art, PE and Media Center” and he and his big brother Alfie just recently performed their magic show in the “Potomac Idol” contest at their school. He lost two teeth at the same time last week and now he is wondering “what the tooth fairy will leave since both teeth will be under my pillow at the same time.”
Fisher was born with broken legs, arms and ribs — but also with an unbreakable spirit. He was recently chosen as the youngest-ever “Kids Play for Good” ambassador and will host his first annual “Fisher’s Tennis Fest” on Saturday, June 7 to raise funds for OI research to find better treatments, and hopefully one day, to find a cure.
The event will take place from noon–2 p.m. at the Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center in Bethesda. Children ages 5-10 are invited to join Fisher on the court for fun games, obstacle courses, balloon tennis, a juggler, music and more. The cost is $15 per player and all proceeds will benefit OI research through the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation www.oif.org.
This tennis event is wheelchair and mobility-device friendly.
Fisher’s mom, Erin, grew up in a tennis family and still plays at a competitive level. She is thrilled that children will be coming to “bash some balls for better bones. Movement and activity are so important for people with OI. Movement makes muscles stronger and muscles support the bones. Since Fisher was born, we have strategized how to approach activities — it’s always a gamble but it’s worth it when he is successfully tries new endeavors. Fisher is very determined and doesn’t give up. Our family always tries really hard to find Fisher’s way to participate in activities.”
“Kids Play for Good (KPFG) is the first charitable network of tennis kids who are making a difference by leading on-court and on-line fundraisers in their communities,” said Lynn Morrell, founder of KPFG. “We believe that enabling kids and giving them the skills with this virtual hub where their collective voices and talents are featured is the foundation for positive change in the world.”
Children who love tennis become ambassadors and then set up tennis fundraising events in their community to support their cause, whatever it may be. The youngsters who participate enjoy being a part of the organization and playing tennis while helping others. They gain leadership skills, organizational skills and learn how they can make a difference. KPFG supports them through all stages of the event.
Fisher is excited about his first “Fisher Tennis Fest” and hopes the community will come out to support the event. “It’s going to be so much fun,” he said. “My friends and family as well as a lot of other kids will show up and have a fun time playing a lot of different games. And I bet the juggler will juggle tennis balls.”
Children wishing to participate in Fisher Fest and anyone wishing to contribute are invited to register and donate at the direct link: http://formsmarts.com/form/1fbe or visit www.kidsplayforgood.org, click on Featured Ambassador (Fisher Ortiz) and then sign up or donate. Only the first 100 children will be accepted.