Attending last year’s tournament were Maria Alcantara Faul, Joy Parker, Jane Baggett, Noni Shearman, Robert Piper, Gavin Cox (Shannon’s Son), Shirley Webb (Shannon’s Mom), Pam Tadlock, Jules Maust, Ginny Henning, Marti Lundy and Julio Galan. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 2:11 PM
Shannon Cox dedicated her life to serving others.
Hers was a life far too short.
The mother, immigration law specialist, advocate for underprivileged children and avid tennis player from Lake Charles only lived for 34 years before tragically dying in a 2010 car accident. But Cox made an indelible impact on the lives of the many people she helped, and her closest friends know how important it is to keep her memory alive.
One example of that remembrance is the second annual Shannon Cox Memorial Tennis Tournament coming up Aug. 17-18 at Graywood Sports Club. Proceeds benefit the Shannon Cox Counseling Center, a program of the Family and Youth Counseling Agency founded in 2011 that focuses on grief counseling for children enduring the loss of loved ones. Cox was survived by a son, Gavin, who was 8 years old at the time of her death.
Ginny Henning, a founder of the Shannon Cox Counseling Center, said Cox was passionate about helping people all her life.
“It brings me great joy to see how many children are getting necessary help from such a tragedy. She’d be very proud of that,” Henning said. “Our reason for wanting to do the tennis tournament … knowing full well it wouldn’t be a real moneymaker at first, was to get the name out there. We knew it would reach the masses through tennis.”
The inaugural tournament defied expectations by raising $25,000 for the foundation, said Marti Lundy, Cox’s doubles partner on the tennis court.
Lundy said the response to the event was overwhelming, and they’re anticipating that enthusiasm once again.
“Last year we raised more money than any first-time event that Family & Youth has done,” Lundy said. “It was amazing. We just wanted to break even with $6,000 because they kept telling us first-time tournaments and fundraisers like this are hard. Seventy-five players participated, a lot of people showed up for the social events, too. This year we’re hoping to have the same kind of turnout.”
Festivities at the tennis tournament kick off Friday at 4:30 p.m. with an Adult/Child Fun Shootout followed by adult mixed doubles play and a dinner and karaoke night. Saturday includes a Wacky Tennis Attire contest, doubles play, dinner and music from the Backyard Cowboys. The McNeese State girls basketball team will also be around volunteering at the event.
Henning said she and the tournament organizers are “thinking big” for the future even now.
“We knew it was going to be an annual thing,” Henning said. “We want to do this for years and years and years. We’re hoping it grows to become a big thing that brings other cities to Lake Charles. Maybe we can get John Mayer here in five years. Shannon loved John Mayer.”
Cox’s friends remember her fondly, especially on the tennis court. Lundy recalled a particularly unique moment about five years ago at a state doubles tournament that embodied Cox’s joyful personality and zest for life that is so greatly missed.
“She dressed up like a Tennis Ninja in the locker room before the match,” Lundy said. “Everybody loved playing with her and against her. She had a really wicked sense of humor; she was always having a good time.”
And the upcoming tennis tournament that bears her name serves up an opportunity for others to do the same.