Raising heart health awareness on the tennis court

Raising heart health awareness on the tennis court
Vinnie Cannariato (left) and Port resident Dave Kerpen. (Courtesy of Dave Kerpen)

When Port Washington resident Dave Kerpen first met Vincent Cannariato several years ago as part of an entrepreneurs group, they bonded over tennis. Every Tuesday from 10 p.m. to midnight, Kerpen, Cannariato and others would gather to square off on the court.

And then one Monday last January, a day before he was supposed to play Cannariato, Kerpen received a phone call.

“I got a call that he had died, and I thought it was a joke at first,” Kerpen said. “I couldn’t believe it. He had heart issues, but his doctor had cleared him to play tennis.”

Cannariato was only 50 when he died from a heart condition. In the months since he died, Kerpen decided to hold a charity tennis tournament to raise awareness for men’s heart health.

“Vinnie’s situation was more serious than we thought, and I think that’s the case for a lot of men,” he said. “A lot of men feel like they are healthy and not realize they have a heart condition.”

The first annual Vincent Cannariato Open will be held at the Village Club at Sands Point on Monday. There will be men’s and women’s singles as well as mixed doubles. The suggested donation for tennis sign-up is $200 per person and matches begin at 1 p.m.

For those who cannot play tennis — or who will be working on Monday afternoon — a dinner will be held at the Village Club later that night. The suggested donation for dinner attendees is $100 per person.

Kerpen said that he wasn’t sure what to do after he lost his friend. He wanted to hold a fundraiser but was unsure how to put a plan into action. He said it was his daughter who finally inspired him to do something.

“The Port for Parkland fundraiser was what pushed me over the edge,” he said, referring to his daughter Charlotte’s fundraiser in March that raised more than $27,000 for families who lost children in the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting. “If my daughter can raise the money, then I can do this for my friend Vinnie.” 

Kerpen said he was unable to find a suitable charity for men’s heart health, so he is working with St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn to raise awareness.

He said his goal is to raise $10,000 and then double that number each year. He said the response so far has been encouraging.

“We will have people that knew Vinnie and those who did not,” he said. “The town has responded well and it makes me proud to be a resident of Port Washington.”

For more information, visit vinniesday.com.

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