GREENWICH, Conn. -- WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Delle Donne is set to speak at a fundraising gala in Greenwich to fight Lyme disease.
Delle Donne will receive the Star Light Award at the Stamford-based Lyme Research Alliance's "Time for Lyme" Gala on April 5 at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich. Proceeds from the gala will be used to fund research projects at universities and major medical institutions throughout the United States.
“We are excited that Elena—one of the most talked-about women’s basketball players in the country—will be joining us at the Gala to receive this award,” said Ally Hilfiger, event chair. “More than 300,000 people are diagnosed every year with Lyme. By sharing her story and lending her name to LRA’s campaign to fund a cure, Elena will be helping to educate countless Americans about the devastating impact of this disease, including the financial hardships that come with the battle.”
Chicago Sky forward-guard Delle Donne, who was named to the All-WNBA Second Team and finished third overall in MVP voting in her rookie season, was sidelined twice by Lyme disease during her basketball career at the University of Delaware, representatives said.
"When she first contracted Lyme disease in 2008, Delle Donne had very little knowledge about the illness and 30 days of antibiotics knocked it out," representatives said.
Two years later, Delle Donne experienced a recurrence.
“At times I was physically unable to get out of bed, suffered fatigue so extreme that I couldn’t lift my arm for more than 10 seconds, had migraine-like headaches, and felt like I was dying,” she said. “No doctor knew what it was.”
Delle Donne, 24, says she wants to do all she can to raise awareness of the disease and speak to Lyme sufferers.
“Not only are they going through physical and emotional challenges,” she said. “But the financial burden it brings to families is enormous. I hope I’ll be able to inspire people to not give up, especially those who are actively battling symptoms. I know how hard of a fight it is.”
LRA’s “Time for Lyme” Gala is the group's largest fundraiser of the year and helps to fund important medical research projects.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, residents can visit the Lyme Research Alliance website or call 203-969-1333.