Childhelp is saddened to share the news that Jackie Cooper, a great philanthropist and friend of Childhelp, passed away May 23, 2013.
Jackie Cooper and Lornie Kuhle approached Childhelp in 2009 to launch a tennis tournament benefitting the Childhelp Merv Griffin Village in Beaumont, California. As close friends of Merv Griffin, they knew his love of tennis and his love of the children housed at Childhelp’s beautiful ranch.
Working tirelessly for the past 4 years, Jackie and Lornie put on the Childhelp Desert Classic Tennis Tournament in Mission Hills. This USTA women’s $25,000 tournament attracts young women athletes from all over the world.
The Tournament features a private dinner for donors and includes “fireside chats” with such tennis greats as Roy Emerson, Jimmy Connors and most recently Andy Roddick. Over $250,000 has been raised for the children of the Childhelp Merv Griffin Village.
“My friendship with Jackie and Lornie was immediate” recalls Judy Jensen, Childhelp’s Director of the Western Region Chapters. “I have so many memories of Jackie: his laugh, his kindness, his smile, but most of all his heart. His dream was to have a tennis program for the children who are at the Childhelp Merv Griffin Village as he once told me that tennis opened the world to him and was such a positive influence in his life. He hoped that it might do the same for a child at our village. Every year Jackie and Lornie would tell me: “we don’t know how much we will raise this year but we’ll do the best we can.” Every year they would not only meet what they hoped to raise, but usually exceed their expectations!”
Jackie Cooper’s legacy will live on forever at the Childhelp Merv Griffin Village through the tennis program that has been named in his honor. We know that his smile would be beaming if he could now see the joy of children who have suffered so much, having fun learning the game of tennis. We will miss Jackie tremendously but his spirit lives on in each volley, each serve, and in our hearts.
PHOTOS: Jackie Cooper tribute