Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Special Pops Skills Challenge and Annual Fundraiser

Many of you know that I've been involved with Special Pops Tennis for a couple of years now. It's an excellent organization that introduces, teaches and even provides tennis competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to participate at Special Pops' skills challenge at Harrison Park, where we worked with the athletes on 10-and-under courts with volleying, ground-strokes and even serves. My previous experiences had been primarily with more experienced (Special Olympics-caliber) athletes but, in many ways, this past Saturday was more rewarding.

Remember the first time you first started playing the game and caught the tennis bug? Well, despite a brief rain interruption which required us to squeegee courts, we had some athletes who were so excited to participate that they couldn't get enough playing and instruction time. To experience their joy is humbling and I am grateful to have found an organization that enables me to utilize my passion for tennis in a service capacity.

The athlete’s challenge was to hit a series of (forehand and backhand) volleys into the court, with more points being rewarded for deep – between the service and base lines – volleys than short ones. Then, forehand and backhand ground-strokes (the ball being tossed to the athletes) were similarly scored as were serves from each side. The last and perhaps most challenging skill for some of the athletes is having to move at least one step to the ball to hit a ground-stroke, which was also tested on each side. The last ‘rotation’ for the athletes was on a full-size court filled with prizes, which were rewarded to the athlete that was able to hit them with a volley, ground-stroke or serve. Food and fun for everyone!

Volunteering with Special Pops is a terrific opportunity for anyone, and I highly recommend it. Whether you can or cannot, I urge you to visit their website NOW (until Sept. 19) to vote to help Special Pops qualify for Chase Community Giving (on Facebook) funding.

PLAY TENNIS FOR A GREAT CAUSE! Special Pops 3rd Annual Round Robin is the organization’s primary funding event, to be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club on Saturday, October 20 from 5 to 10 PM. Sponsored by 680 The Fan, there will be 2 hours of tennis for those that want to play, a silent auction, hors d'oeuvres, and drink, followed by dinner and a live Auction in the AAC ballroom. The cost is $100 to play, or $75 for non-playing guests. Click here to register yourself and/or your guests.

Hope to see you at the event!

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