As future ATP stars take to the courts next month at the 2018 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger, the USTA Florida Section Foundation will team with tournament officials and volunteers to provide special-needs children with a Special Olympics Carnival on April 27.
The Special Olympics programming is supported by a grant announced this week from the USTA Florida Section Foundation, the giving arm of USTA Florida.
“We’re thrilled to once again partner in 2018 with Special Olympics Leon County programming,” says USTA Florida Section Foundation Executive Director Alexis Johnson. “Getting to see the participating athletes beaming with smiles is the true definition of our mission to change lives through tennis.”
The equipment grant will be used for kids-sized racquets and foam balls for special-needs tennis players that will subsequently be used in the future for additional special-needs and kids programming.
“We invite 200-300 special-needs children from Leon County and surrounding areas to come to the tournament,” said Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Tournament Director Karen Vogter. “We have about 100 volunteers from the community as well as staff and aides for the students in attendance. We do special tennis activities with all the kids.
“I’m not sure who gets more out of it, the kids or the volunteers. After the event we will have a pizza party with drinks and ice cream for all the Special Olympics athletes.”
All funds raised from the tournament portion of the event go to the Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation benefiting the Vogter Neuro-Intensive Care Unit, the City of Tallahassee Friends of Our Parks, and the foundation for the City of Tallahassee Parks & Recreation.
The Special Olympics Carnival is one of five community events occurring during the 2018 Tallahassee Tennis Challenger, which will be held April 22-29 at Forestmeadows Athletic Center in Tallahassee. Other community events are the Boys Town Jamboree, 10 & Under Clinics led by USTA National Director for Community Engagement Anne Davis, the Community Center Tennis Spectacular, and a Net Generation tennis event open to all kids age 5-18.
The Tallahassee Tennis Challenger is a springboard for future stars on the ATP World Tour, and is part of the 2018 Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge which will see a player receive a wild card into the 2018 French Open. Past Tallahassee Tennis Challenger champions include John Isner (2009), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2007) and Mardy Fish (2006). U.S. rising star Frances Tiafoe was runner-up in 2016-15.
For more event info go to www.tallahasseechallenger.com.
ABOUT THE USTA FLORIDA SECTION FOUNDATION
With a mission of “Changing Lives through Tennis,” the USTA Florida Section Foundation provides financial support to organizations that help people of all ages and abilities improve their health and quality of life through the great game of tennis. To learn more visit www.ustafloridafoundation.com.