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Atkins tennis tourney set for late August

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

CONYERS -- Registration for the Kim Atkins Memorial Tennis Tournament is in full serve as organizers look to have the biggest turnout ever for the 6-year-old event that is designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and encourage early prevention.

The annual tennis tournament will be held Aug. 26-28. Early bird registration is $90 per team through the end of this month. Registration will be $100 per team beginning Aug. 1 through the deadline of Aug. 10.

Players can sign up at www.kimatkins.net.

The event is held in honor of Atkins, who died of breast cancer in 1999. She was a teacher, mother and only 32 years old at the time of her death.

Benny Atkins, husband of the late Kim Atkins, said the tournament had 212 players last year, the most in the event's short run, and is on track to top that number.

Players from Marietta, McDonough and Albany are already signed up this year for the tournament.

In 2005, the tournament had 80 players on tennis courts spread out across the county. This year, the tournament returns to the Rockdale Tennis Center on Parker Road.

"Yeah, we're amazed at how much it has grown. A lot of events are done for three or four years and they just kind of fizzle out. This is just one that continues to take off," Atkins said. It's busy for all of our volunteers and board members. It's a full weekend of work, but it pays off. We hope to raise about $50,000 this year."

The Kimberly Chance Atkins Foundation organizes the tennis tournament each year along with events. The mission has always been about saving lives from breast cancer through awareness and access to mammograms.

KCAF raised money for state-of-the-art mammography equipment at Rockdale Medical Center early on. After the hospital was sold to LifePoint Hospitals in 2009, KCAF redirected efforts to raise $500,000 to purchase a mobile mammography unit to serve Rockdale, Newton, Greene, Morgan and Putnam counties.

However, challenges with technology, health regulations and the need some patients may have for follow-up visits may make the Foundation shift its focus. Atkins said the KCAF board of directors will meet today to consider supporting mammography vouchers and offer volunteer help to those who need transportation to and from local health care facilities.

"The mobile mammography was a dream of mine and as we got into it and looked at federal regulations and having to have follow ups, it just became a logistical nightmare, and we would have spent a half a million dollars on a piece of equipment and not help anyone," he said.

Atkins said Rockdale Medical Center has been receptive to participating in a voucher program. If the plan goes forward and is successful in Rockdale County, Atkins said he hopes to replicate the voucher program in neighboring counties.