I am best described as a Doctor and Pediatrician who made all my dreams come true, realizing at young age that helping sick people and children get better is what my passion was. From mixing compound medications made out of soil and pebbles in my small town in Bulgaria to treating children in the capital of the World that is New York city and being recognized as the top Pediatrician of 2022 by the IAOTP. From experiencing the first cry of my two children to the devastating call of losing one of them, my 20-year-old daughter Stefani. She was a tennis prodigy, a top 20 national player, youngest winner of the women’s championship club tournament at WSTC, winning it at the age of 13. She made a mark, and her goal to reach the skies was achieved literally and metaphorically.
The moment I have realized that I will never be able to see my daughter again was agonizing. I dropped on the floor in the tennis club where I received the news (my son Daniel was about to playa final match and get a trophy that later he dedicated to his sister). The shock was unbearable, the eyes dry, the heart beat pounding but empty.
How do I continue my journey, how do I deliver the news to my son and not victimize him? Falling asleep was a struggle, but seeing my daughter in my dreams as she was coming to visit quite often was an escape. The following two years of my life were a mirage, detached from reality, living with the memories and founding ways to keep healthy and alive. I immediately enrolled my son, then 9 years of age to the best tennis
academy in NYC, the one of John McEnroe. I knew he is an athlete, and secretly wanted to relive all memories with Stefani,travel, play tournaments and watch him win and succeed the way his sister did. Perhaps this was a bit selfish of me, but in a long term my son and I both agreed that tennis saved us. Tennis kept us busy, gave us hope, made our bond stronger. Stefani would even give me advice on what her brother need to work on. In my dreams, I would see her in a desert swinging forehands and telling me how Daniel needs to work on early preparation and split steps.
It is strange how the energy of such a tragic event can charge you and stimulate your imagination and creativity. It is in these dark times that the idea of establishing the non-for-profit organization Stefaniforever20 was born. I registered the foundation and started planning events and ways of fund raising it. The mission was clear and simple … to help underprivileged children discover the game of tennis.
Keeping Stefani’s legacy alive thru helping children play tennis. Our first mission trip to Honduras was a success and we were able to establish a long-term connection with the children tennis academy in San Jose. Through delivering used tennis gear and clothing, to organizing free tennis clinics and tournaments, giving annual monetary awards to the top tennis players. With the help of generous donors and fund-raising events, I am hoping to develop and globalize the organization and reach to many more children all over the World. I still travel with my daughter’s tennis bag pack and in her shoes. Her spirit will live on forever.
Please visit us @stefaniforever20.com and generously contribute to our mission.