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Michael Barnes

Opportunity Matters Luncheon for Andy Roddick Foundation

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The Andy Roddick Foundation has matured through three main stages. It began as a Roddick family outfit that raised money for children’s causes, mostly by relying on the young tennis ace’s celebrity, but also through his warm friendships with like-minded philanthropists, such as Elton John and Billie Jean King.

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Pete Leibman, Courtney Jacobs, Brooklyn Decker Roddick and Keith Kreeger at Opportunity Matters Luncheon for Andy Roddick Foundation.

In its second phase, the Foundation reorganized and professionalized with the intention of teaching needy kids character through tennis, not unlike the group, First Tee of Greater Austin. Now, with CEO Richard A. Tagle firmly at the helm, along with the constant involvement of Roddick and his wife, model and actress Brooklyn Decker Roddick, the group has settled on a three pronged approach to helping disadvantaged youths.

Starting with Pecan Springs Elementary, the foundation has created programs for after-school as well as the spring and summer breaks that give students the kind of enrichment that middle-class kids receive as a matter of course. They’ve also partnered with Austin Parks and Recreation to enhance summer programs at 10 community recreation centers, and they are looking, by 2020, to forge full partnerships with other like-minded groups to make sure no child falls through the area’s enrichment safety net.

The group’s star-studded annual galas still attract a mostly young, well-manicured crowd who don’t generally show up at other charity events — this is a good thing; spread the love — and still bring in the big bucks. The Roddicks have experimented with other social formats. The Opportunity Matters Luncheon at the Hotel Van Zandt was the first of its kind, put together by Decker Roddick and pal Anne Dukes-Delic. Family buddy and radio personality Bobby Bones once again proved a funny, stirring speaker, but equally motivating were Pasqual, father of two boys who love the programs, and tearfully grateful Katiriah, a fifth-grader who has embraced the foundation’s work and play since 2014.

This was my first charity event staged at the cool, gray-toned Van Zandt. It’s upper lobby and banquet room served quite well for this group of 220 or so. And you’d never guess this was the foundation’s first-ever luncheon.

Update: In an earlier version of this post, Anne Dukes-Delic and Pasqual’s names were misspelled.