When a recovering heart patient contemplates life after surgery, the prospects may seem bleak. Herman Slotoroff, a 70-year-old retired accountant from Somers, NY, however, saw opportunity on the horizon. Told by his doctors that exercise and a good diet were essential to his recovery from a heart bypass operation, he took them at their word. The result, 10 years later, is an ongoing program, the By-Pass-Open tennis tournament, that through his efforts has contributed more than $200,000 to the American Heart Association for heart research. It also has promoted the cause of exercise and a healthy diet for hundreds of recovering heart patients.
Although he had never organized a public event before, Mr. Slotoroff, an avid tennis player before his operation, created the By-Pass-Open in 1993. He incorporated the Open as a nonprofit organization, convinced a nearby tennis club to donate its facilities on an off day, and then personally undertook all the myriad tasks needed to make the tournament a reality. Recruiting recovering heart patients as players, through referrals and through suggestions offered by the many doctors he solicited, his first day-long tournament set the pattern for a day-long tournament that has taken place every year since then. The program has not only won funding for heart research through entry fees and sponsorships, but has promoted the cause of a healthy diet through the printed material he has made available at the tournament, and through the low-fat pre-event and post-tournament luncheon.
As his program has grown, Mr. Slotoroff has won commendations for his efforts including a book on exemplary nonprofit concepts, CPR For Nonprofits, and attracted players from all over the country including such luminaries as former New York City Mayor David Dinkens and CNN financial commentator, Myron Kandel. The program he created is a unique effort and one will continues to grow annually.