Providence members team with club to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand

When Trina Blankenship agreed last year to organize the annual ladies tennis charity event at Providence Country Club, she didn’t know how much work it would be, but she knew which nonprofit she would choose as beneficiary – Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

Her husband, Charles, is vice president of human resources for Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which has an ongoing partnership with the charity. When the couple attended the organization’s 2018 Lemon Ball in Philadelphia, Blankenship became aware of the full scope of its efforts to change the lives of children with cancer.

“I was blown away. Alex was a little girl who had cancer and started a lemonade stand to raise money to help other children with cancer. Her family started the foundation in her honor, and they’ve done an amazing job,” Blankenship said. “We heard from doctors who benefited from their funding for cutting-edge research, and families they helped with travel costs and medical expenses to get their child the treatment they needed. It was pretty incredible.”

Blankenship knew she would need help to make the most of the member-guest tennis event, so she called her friend Sharon Dolan to ask if she would co-chair.

"Sharon promptly told me no,” Blankenship said. “But within an hour she had read about Alex’s Lemonade Stand online and she called back and said, ‘I’ll do that.’

The pair worked diligently canvassing for sponsorships and donations for silent and live auctions. From tournament entry fees to Jell-O® shots, it all added up: In just four hours last August, 64 women played a round-robin tournament and raised over $17,000 to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

“We tried to think of ways to raise money that would go straight to the charity. Toward the end, we asked for donations and gave examples of what different amounts could do to help with childhood cancer,” Blankenship said. “When the totals came in, we were stunned.”

The event was so successful, it was recognized as the United States Tennis Association North Carolina’s 2018 Charity Tennis Event of the Year at its 2019 Awards Ceremony in Pinehurst, N.C.

“We had no idea; it was a total surprise, ”Blankenship said of the award. “It was a lot of work, but it was extremely satisfying. We’ve passed the baton; the organizers for this year’s tournament will support Make-a-Wish Foundation.

William Noblitt, director of tennis at Providence Country Club, said Blankenship and Dolan did an amazing job organizing the tournament and coordinating the efforts of members and club staff who volunteered their time.

News of the event was so inspiring that this year, sister property The Country Club of Asheville hosted a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand June 1–2.

“As part of McConnell Golf we are always looking for ways to support different charities and give back to our community in meaningful ways,” Noblitt said.