As a teenager during the 1970s and 1980s, Andrea Jaeger defeated the best in tennis to become the No. 2-ranked woman in her sport.
But the competitive world wounded her spirit, she said. She abandoned tennis to live a life of service and in 1990 founded the Silver Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children. From 2006 to 2009, she served as an Anglican Dominican nun with the Episcopal Church. She now runs the Little Star Foundation, offering hope to thousands of children with cancer.
Jaeger will share her story Tuesday at the Franciscan Center in Tampa. The event is part of a leadership series featuring local and national speakers. Jaeger will speak about how following God's calling helped her find peace off the court.
"She was a leader on the tennis court; now she's taken those skills and is applying them to helping others in need," said Susan Barnes, director of marketing and communication for the Franciscan Center.
Sister Anne Dougherty, president and CEO at the center, contacted Jaeger about doing a presentation after reading the athlete's book, First Service: Following God's Calling and Finding Life's Purpose. In the book, published in 2004, Jaeger wrote about putting past pain aside to start a new life. As a girl, she endured beatings from her father, who also acted as her coach. She wants children to know not to fear the world, she wrote.
Barnes said event attendees can expect Jaeger to talk about the challenges and joys associated with making major life changes.
"It's always interesting to learn how people got to where they are in their lives," Barnes said. "Sometimes we feel stuck in whatever we are doing, and it is helpful to hear people's stories of how they started something new."
Located on 8 acres along the Hillsborough River, the Franciscan Center is an ideal place for people to reflect and grow in their spiritual lives, Barnes said.
The center offers a variety of self-improvement classes, programs and retreats. Guests can visit for the day or stay overnight in one of its 38 bedrooms.
"People walk on the grounds and say they instantly feel at peace," Barnes said. "With everything that's going on in the world, it's nice to have a place like that."
Andrea Jaeger will appear at a luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the center, 3010 Perry Ave. Cost to attend is $30 for the luncheon or $20 for the evening program. Reservations are requested by Saturday.
The Road to Emmaus, a Journal Retreat Workshop, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the center. Attendees will use journal writing exercises to explore their spiritual selves. Cost to attend is $30.
A Women's Retreat, the Joy of Enough, will take place Feb. 1 and 2 at the center. Women will learn to discover the joy in knowing that who they are is enough. Cost to attend is $80 for a single room, $68 for a shared room or $60 for commuters.
For more information on these and other events at the Franciscan Center, visit franciscancenter tampa.org or call (813) 229-2695.
Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 500 W Platt St., will host a free workshop, Be Reconciled: Lessons from South Africa, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26. The event will feature the Rev. Roger Scholtz of South Africa, who will speak about the importance of racially inclusive Christ-centered missions. For more information, visit hydeparkumc.org.