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May 6th, 2003, 04:37 PM
SPORTSBALL 2003 - A Black Tie & Sneakers Affair - Hits the Courts on May 8

9th Annual Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health Benefit Gala to Honor Olympic Swimmer de Varona, Tennis Coach Bollettieri, 2 SUNY Downstate Medical Center M.D.s


NEW YORK, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization committed to addressing the health education needs of America's urban population, will hold the 9th Annual SPORTSBALL, the Institute's Black Tie and Sneakers benefit gala and awards ceremony, on Thursday, May 8, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. This year the Institute celebrates its tenth anniversary. SPORTSBALL 2003 will honor four individuals who make a positive difference in the community, including Olympic gold medalist swimmer Donna de Varona and legendary tennis coach Nick Bollettieri.
Specifically, the honorees are:

* Donna de Varona, now chairwoman of the Women's World Cup and a frequent
sports commentator, who will receive the Legacy in Motion award.

* Nick Bollettieri, the coach of many tennis stars of our time (including
Andre Agassi, Anna Kournikova, Tommy Haas and Monica Seles), who will
receive the Spirit of Sports and Service Award.

* Richard J. Macchia, M.D., chairman of the Urology Department at SUNY
Downstate Medical Center, who will receive the Leadership in Urban
Medicine award.

* John C. LaRosa, M.D., president and chief executive officer of SUNY
Downstate Medical Center, who will receive the Institute's distinguished
Strength to Build award.


"These are individuals whose lives reflect what Arthur stood for -- compassion, intelligence and a boundless energy," said Ruth Browne, Sc.D and Executive Director of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. "Their work in the community and in the field of medicine testifies that they deserve these awards."

Ms. de Varona's award is given to a member of the entertainment community who distinguishes herself or himself in areas of community service and urban cultural and equality initiatives. It recognizes her work with the Women's Sports Foundation and "Title IX" federal legislation.

The Spirit of Sports and Service award, which Mr. Bollettieri will receive, is given annually to a member of the sports community who distinguishes himself or herself in areas of community service and athletic accomplishment. It recognizes his community work and coaching through the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

The Leadership in Urban Medicine award that Dr. Macchia will receive recognizes a member of the health-care community who distinguishes himself or herself in areas of urban health care and education, and Dr. Macchia is being honored for his work at SUNY Downstate Medical School and SUNY Downstate Hospital.

Dr. LaRosa will be the first recipient of the Strength to Build award, given to a member of the community who distinguishes himself or herself as a resource builder for the community. He is being honored for his work to build educational programs, industry and research opportunities in Brooklyn, NY.

Along with the awards presentation, SPORTSBALL 2003 will be an evening of fun, games, dinner and dancing. This year's event will be co-hosted by CBS sports analyst Mary Carillo and NBC "Today Show" co-host Al Roker. Unique to SPORTSBALL 2003, the Knick City Dancers will sell tickets for a special raffle that will benefit the Institute. Raffle prizes include a limited edition Al Hirschfeld print of Arthur Ashe, one week at Nick Bollettieri's Junior Tennis Camp, jewelry by David Yurman, a Mohegan Sun Hotel & Casino Package, an autographed tennis racquet from Anna Kournikova, an autographed framed photo of Tiger Woods, four tickets to the 2003 U.S. Open Tennis Championship, and many other prizes.

SPORTSBALL is the major fundraiser of the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. The funds raised support the innovative community health-education and research initiatives of the Institute, which was founded in 1992 by the late legendary tennis star Arthur Ashe. Guests will be entertained by world-renowned performers, mingle and talk with sports and entertainment celebrities and have the unique opportunity to play the latest technology in virtual reality games.

Tickets for SPORTSBALL 2003 can be purchased for $750 each through the Institute's ticket hotline at (212) 330-8682.

About the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health

The late tennis great Arthur Ashe founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health in December 1992, two months before his death. Ashe had been diagnosed with a heart condition that forced his retirement from the game he loved so much and so many loved to watch him play. When he contracted the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion, Ashe went public with his illness and envisioned helping people less fortunate than himself. It was from this inspiration that the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health was born. Ashe established the Institute as a means of bringing opportunities and life-saving programs about health care to the nation's under-served populations. Today, with a wide spectrum of programs in place, the national tax-exempt charity headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, working in poor and neglected neighborhoods, provides innovative, grass-roots health-education programs and research initiatives that serve as models for replication in urban communities throughout the nation.

For interview and photography requests, please contact Robyn Massey at 646-935-3915.