With the recent announcement that ATP was bringing back world-championship tennis to North Texas in February for its Dallas Open, it triggered some memories of the area’s connection with the sport back in the 1970s. In addition to Lamar Hunt’s World Championship of Tennis finals that had the ultimate in men’s tennis like Jimmy Connor, Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe, Rod Laver and a young kid named Björn Borg facing off in Moody Coliseum and Reunion Arena, the area also boasted its own local players like Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly who had been a teenage tennis wunderkind. Why, she won her first Wimbledon title in 1952 at the age of 18.
Unfortunately her plans to turn professional ended in 1955 as a result of a horseback riding accident. It was also the same year that she married rising restaurateur/1952 Olympic equestrian team member Norm Brinker. The couple settled in Dallas to raise a family including two daughters, Cindy Brinker and Brenda Brinker. But Mo’s life took a dramatic turn in 1966 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Three years later, at the age of 34, she passed away.
While Cindy was just 12 when her mother died, she became a formidable fighter against cancer. Her efforts focused on raising awareness and funds to crush the disease. In 1980 she created Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer (WOKC) to support pediatric cancer because “she cherishes the joy of children and recognized the devastation of a parent hearing the four haunting words, ‘Your child has cancer.’”
Along the way, an up-and-coming New Jersey-based sub shop called Jersey Mike’s was growing nationally with franchises in North Texas. In addition to serving up a mouthwatering sub, the company’s mission was “Giving… making a difference in someone’s life.” In each of its markets, it partnered with a local non-profit to annually hold a “Day of Giving,” when Jersey Mike’s Franchise System matched 100% of sales.
In DFW they found their perfect recipient — Cindy’s WOKC just a little more than a decade ago.
And how is the program doing? Taking place on Wednesday, March 31, the 12th Annual Jersey Mike’s Subs Month of Giving/ Day of Giving knocked it out of the park, with all 56 DFW-area Jersey Mike’s pitching in and Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones on hand.
According to WOKC CEO Aashik Khakoo, “I loved working with the Jersey Mike’s team on the Day of Giving because they were all so passionate about the campaign and supporting our cause. One store manager told me that this was their Super Bowl. It certainly showed, as there was such enthusiasm with many stores reaching record sales for that day. We at Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer are so fortunate to be a part of the Jersey Mike’s family.”
As for the final tally of sub-eating and the match fulfilled by the Franchise Systems, WOKC received a check for $745,250. That’s a lot of lettuce!
As Jersey Mike’s North Texas Area Director and Franchisee Dalton Stewart put it, “It’s incredible to present this record-breaking donation of our longstanding partnership, knowing that it will truly make a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families. The results are even more meaningful this year since the Day of Giving festivities were canceled last year due to the pandemic.”
* Photo credit: Danny Campbell