The New Sun

Former tennis champion Andrea Jaeger had an idea: to give children with cancer a chance to experience the healing and fun of being out in nature with caring people. So she created The Silver Lining Foundation.

As a way to provide a therapeutic break from the hospital, the foundation provides children with all-expenses-paid adventurous trips to their Ranch in Aspen, Colorado, featuring activities such as horseback riding, rafting, swimming, and skiing. The results have been profound.

A gala event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in January honored Ted Forstmann, a champion of children, who believed in Andrea's dream and became her primary investor.

The co-chairs for the evening were Gerald Levin (Chairman & CEO of Time Warner) and Tom Freston. Jon Stewart was the host, with musical entertainment by Glen Frey (formerly of the Eagles). The air was filled with gladness and gratitude.

Those in attendance included Diane Sawyer, Charlie Rose, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, and Sumner Redstone (Chairman & CEO of Viacom).

Below are excerpts of the heartfelt speeches by Gerald Levin, John McEnroe, Oprah Winfrey, Andrea Jaeger, and Ted Forstmann.

Gerald Levin: ...I've heard from our precious daughter, Anna, who has worked at the Ranch and she has told us the difference those couple of weeks makes, not only for these kids and their families, but for those who work with them -- how significant it is to give to and sustain these young people.

What Andrea does is not just about these terrible diseases and how these young lives are affected by it. What it's about is true love, compassion, true sharing, and hope. It's really about what you're here to celebrate this evening -- the qualities that rescue the human condition, giving meaning and significance.

It's important to remember that every cloud has a sliver lining -- we know that -- but also the reverse is true because every silver lining has a cloud. At this time, unfortunately, we have a lot of clouds because we still live in a society where millions of families are without access to quality medical care and now, sadly, we face the prospect of billions of dollars being lost to a new phase of the arm's race at a time when funding is desperately necessary for more breakthrough research for a cure for all types of cancer.

Now, I'm afraid, we're seeing the cessation of stem cell research which is absolutely essential as we try to attack diabetes or Parkinson's disease or even Alzheimer's. I believe that we need to make a commitment, not only to a wonderful organization like the Silver Lining Foundation, but that public and private resources should be used not to damage our environment, not to foster another cold war, but to heal the spirit of young people. To empower our children. That's the work that won't be done until all the clouds are dispelled and their silver linings are available to all children regardless of their circumstances in our society.

John McEnroe: I have to say I was the first person to donate to the Silver Lining Ranch. There were a couple of other things that I was the first person to do which were a bit more dubious. I was the first guy, for example, in a 100 years not to be invited to be a member of the All-England Club. That's quite a difficult accomplishment. I was the first and only person to get Arthur Ashe to yell on the tennis court. Unfortunately, he was yelling after me when I was questioning a call during Davis Cup. And last but not least, I was the first and only person to get Bjorn Borg to question a call during the 1980 match. So you see, I've come a long way too, along with Andrea.

I'm here to introduce Andrea. She's probably got more damn energy than anyone, as the people around her know, and you're so damn positive too. I really must commend you on that. 10 years ago we were over at the French Open. This was how many shoulder surgeries later? Seven shoulder surgeries Andrea had, trying to get her way into the French Open. She was forced to become John McEnroe's assistant at the U.S. Open. Now that's rather pathetic when you think about it. These were the days even when people like Bud Collins were telling me how to commentate.

...Andrea was being threatened by a management group, who won't be named, but if anyone's interested, come see me at table 6. She couldn't collect any of her insurance money for her shoulder operations and then she said she had this idea. She had this idea to try to help kids. This is someone who didn't have much of a childhood herself. I think she played the U.S. Open for the first time at, what was it, four years old? It was Chris Everett, Tracy Austin, then Andrea Jaeger. I will mention that she was former number two player in the world tennis.

Andrea Jaeger: Back then, we had no funding on the horizon and no donor in sight so John McEnroe stepped up. Not only did he step up but he also shouted and he blazed a trail in order to really take the first step.

...A nurse came over to me and started talking about a patient named Sonia. She said, "I just wanted to let you know that when Sonia was in the hospital after her summer session visit to the Ranch in Aspen, and meeting all the people, she changed. Something happened that brought life into her. Sonia lost her leg to cancer, had numerous relapses and the cancer swept to her brain

... One of the people especially that helped her out in that summer session was a very talented social worker. Anna Levin had a guidance session with Sonia because Sonia was crying. These kids have a thousand reasons to cry. But she went horseback riding and whitewater rafting; she was doing all the activities and we were worried because we wanted to make sure it wasn't something that was happening in our session. So we sent Anna over. Anna talked with her and came back and said, "Those are tears of joy...she said she had the best time of her life!"

Oprah Winfrey: I feel honored given that it falls upon me this evening to introduce a man whose vision, whose generosity, intelligence, and determination combine to make him what I think is one of the most unusual men I've ever known. And anyone who's watched my show for the past 15 years knows that I have met some pretty unusual people in my line of work. I'm honored also because this man, who has done so much to help so many, is someone I am proud and privileged to call my friend.

It is not difficult, as many of us in this room know, to be generous if you have been fortunate enough to have prospered in your life. It's not difficult. But what makes Ted stand apart is that he brings more than resources to the table. What Ted does is bring a totally unconventional way of looking at problems and coming up with solutions. He brings a passion to what he does and a compassion for the people that he helps. And that's why we're all here tonight, to honor that...Anybody that knows him knows he never does anything half way. He just doesn't. He either does it right or he doesn't do it at all.

Let me tell you, I was there with Andrea last September, I have seen and experienced the Silver Lining Ranch. Ted did the Silver Lining Ranch right. He and Andrea have created a place where children who have life-threatening illnesses can go and just be themselves. Children will play and swim and go horseback riding, water rafting, and fishing. For that time that they are allowed to be themselves, they're allowed to experience a little happiness and a little hope and a little laughter. Those of us who have observed that know that it's got to be as powerful as any of the medicines and treatments known to modern man.

As usual, Ted took a risk. He didn't know Andrea from Adam, he really didn't. But he believed in her and he believed in her dream. After talking with her for a short time, he fully realized that his project was going to take about $4 million dollars. So, this is the way I heard it, he called the guy who introduced them and said, "Okay, you put a million in and I'll put a million in and then we'll get the rest." The guy said, "Well, I was thinking more like $20,000 dollars."

So, in the end, it was Ted who gave the initial amount of $1.7 million dollars himself. I've noticed that when people throw around that kind of money, it usually tends to land on art museums or hospital wings named after themselves or university endowment funds -- all of that's good -- but when Ted Forstmann throws it around, it always, always, always ends up helping children. Whether it's through the medical center that he sent to Bosnia, or to the Huggy-Bears Tournament that he and his brother host every year or to what I think has got to be, and if it's not it ought to be, Ted, one of the proudest achievements of your life and that is the Children's Scholarship Fund. Through that, Ted has changed the lives of not just a few but of thousands and thousands of children, and continues to try to help even millions more. It will change generations, for sure. So because of that, he's changing the future and changing our world.

...The world's children are his children. He knows he's a part of the village of the world's children. What else could account for the endless amount of time, the endless amount of care and resources that Ted has devoted to improving the lives of children in this world and expanding their opportunities. For that, Ted, I know that the children thank you as do we all. Ladies and Gentleman, Ted Forstmann.

Ted Forstmann: What I think this evening is really all about -- because it's certainly not about me -- is vision, compassion, commitment, and heroism. Andrea had a dream. And it's true that I invested in Andrea's dream but it's been her dream from start to finish. She was doing this, she had mastered this, she had envisioned this long before I came along, and quite frankly, I'm not 100% sure that once I was in Andrea's sight, whether I had a real choice to invest or not invest anyhow. Her vision is compelling and is full of dedication. It's not institutional. It's highly entrepreneurial. She's just one of the greatest people on earth.

...I've always been into heroes. Maybe one of the things that's not quite right with America these days is that we don't have enough heroes. Real heroes. We have lots of celebrities. Not enough real heroes...

...I'd like to suggest to you tonight that one of the forms that heroism comes in is a little ex-tennis player with long brownish blond hair. A little girl with very, very big ideas -- Andrea Jaeger. It also comes in the form of all those fabulous little kids, all of whom were dealt such a really lousy hand in this life. I've never met one of these children that didn't have a smile on their face. I've never heard a complaint from one of them. That's heroism. They're all benefited -- that's the great thing -- by the period of time they spend and the fun they have thanks to Andrea and her organization.

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To learn more about the Silver Lining Foundation, go to: