Cale Balusek has spent the last two years helping raise money for the Baylor Health Care System Foundation.
Earlier this month he got to see the smiles that come with his efforts.
On Dec.21 Balusek, a junior at Flower Mound High School, delivered a check for $16,500 to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) department at Baylor Scott and White Hospital in Grapevine.
This followed a tennis tournament he organized that took place in November.
Balusek created the Love Babies tournament in 2017 to raise money for the department that saved his life years ago.
When Balusek was born April 30, 2001, he was 10 weeks premature. His twin brother, Caden, had died at 26 weeks.
Balusek’s future looked uncertain. He weighed 2.5 pounds at birth and was just a little larger than the size of his father's hand. But after two months in the NICU, he was finally able to go home. At that point, he weighed 5 pounds.
But Balusek has been able to live a healthy live and even plays on the FMHS tennis team. So when looking for a way to give back to Baylor, a tennis tournament seemed like the natural fit.
“I loved seeing all the players and my teammates playing,” Balusek said. “It was a great experience and a lot of fun.”
This year’s event drew in 170 players and featured a doubles tournament, plus a Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) singles tournament, which was new this year.
Balusek called the tournament a success, adding that 40 businesses donated items for an auction.
“Our goal was to raise $10,000,” Balusek said. “The women’s doubles tournament took place first, and just by having that we raised $15,000. So we had already passed our goal.”
Last year’s inaugural event brought in $7,700.
“It’s great to see how much this has grown,” said Balusek, adding that there will likely be another tournament in 2019.
Balusek said the money raised this year will go toward Kangaroo Recliner Chairs, which allow parents to sit at an angle while holding their newborn close to their chest, helping regulate the baby’s heartbeat.
“It’s amazing to see the difference we’re making,” Balusek said. “To see the huge number on the check and to see how we’re helping others made me feel awesome.”