I just wrapped up a quick trip to Washington DC for Smash Hits and a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
This year Smash Hits was held at the Bender Arena at American University. I can't believe this is their 18th year doing the event and the 8th year I have participated, the years just fly by! I remember the first year I participated like it was yesterday. This is one of my favorite events and I always have so much fun! It's for such a great cause! I was on Team Elton this year along with Andre Agassi, Stephanie Graf, Jan-Michael Gambill and of course the legendary Sir Elton John playing against Team Billie Jean (Billie Jean King, Mark Philippoussis, Martina Navratilova, Rennae Stubbs and Eric Butorac). Before we went on court we all participated in a team press conference and photo-op, then headed over to the VIP reception for the silent and live auction. This year’s auction items were unbelievable and with the help of Pam Shriver (she was the auctioneer) the live auction raised over $250,000 alone! I had so much fun playing doubles with Stephanie against Martina and Rennae. Stephanie and I had a few laughs and we had a chance to catch up. I also played mixed doubles with Andre against Mark and Martina. The crowd was amazing and really enjoyed seeing some great tennis. At the end of the night we were able to raise over $500,000! It was such a pleasure to be a part of Elton and Billie's event!
On Tuesday I made a very special visit to Walter Reed on behalf of the USO. It was such a honor for me to have been able to visit the Wounded Warriors wing of the Medical Center. I met with several soldiers that had been critically wounded in Afghanistan during their tour there. I was invited there to boost their moral while recovering from their injuries. But it was really the soldiers who lifted me up and gave me inspiration. Meeting them and their family members, hearing their stories of what had happened and how they were managing their recovery was more than inspirational, it was life changing. This experience was different from my previous experiences visiting Landstuhl Hospital in Germany to meet with soldiers who had been wounded in action. At Landstuhl they are only there for a brief time to be stabilized before being brought back to the States for long term care. At Walter Reed some of the men I met had been there for months. An amazing guy named Tim, only 21 years old, was brought there in June. He had been so critically injured from an IED blast and they didn't think he was going to survive. But thanks to the amazing staff and his true will to live he has made it through multiple surgeries and is on his way to recovering. He even speaks to injured soldiers about his experiences, hoping to give them inspiration. To see what these men and women sacrifice everyday to keep us all safe is truly unbelievable. I feel so lucky to have spent time getting to know them. As with my visit last year to Iraq and Afghanistan I left there truly inspired and thankful to all of the service men and women!!