Thursday, February 28, 2019

Buddy Up Tennis

We are over the moon proud of our little human.  He won an essay contest about Buddy Up Tennis.  Buddy Up Tennis is a program that matches an athlete (that just happens to have Down Syndrome) to a "buddy" that plays with them and helps them learn tennis skills.  It's an amazing program.  Our son read his winning essay about how Buddy Up Tennis helps him to 400+ people at the annual benefit gala in Columbus, Ohio.

Here's a link to his speech on YouTube:

 Here he is celebrating afterwards with a cool light-up, neon tambourine.

And here's the happy family!  (Of course Owen had to put on that goofy smile!)

Here he is on the court during the Saturday morning tennis event:

The kid he's standing by in the grey shirt is his "buddy", Eric.  I don't know where they find these volunteers, but they are AMAZING--each and every one of them!  Thank you!!!  The volunteers claim they are not sure who gets the most out of Buddy Up Tennis.  Their smiles show.

There is a lot of technical instruction during a 90 minute session.  I think Owen can beat me!

There are so many participants that they have make-shift courts made with caution tape.

He loved the "free time" in the hotel just hanging out with Dad, playing iPad.

Look at my handsome pair!  They look so grown up (both of them, LOL).

Getting ready for a little tour of Columbus.  Valet parking was a must for this downtown hotel.

Of course there was Oreo pie dessert at Tee-Jay's.

He loved sleeping in the same room as Mom & Dad.  (Just like old times as he said.)

The special group of speakers and essay winners met for a dining out event the night before the gala at Forno Kitchen & Bar.  It was quite fancy for us in the downtown art district.  It's especially fancy when we are used to going to Chuck E. Cheese, Chipolte, Chinese Buffets, and Mexican restaurants.

We met so many amazing kids and families!

This young man, Gianluca Audia, was a typical kid that LOVES tennis.  He raised $8000 by throwing a spring fling up in the New Hampshire/Vermont area BY HIMSELF!  He's 13!  Like I said, I don't know where they find these volunteers, but they are AMAZING!

This is Will Gibson.  His mom founded Buddy Up Tennis in the original location of Columbus, Ohio.  This is his 10th year.  It all started when he was watching his brother play tennis and a special coach stepped up and asked Will to play on a side court.  It has now grown and they also just launched Buddy Up Fitness (a program to keep our athletes fit.) 


Of course we had to get a selfie!

I really need to get back on my diet!  Yikes.

Happy to drive away from the city.  He's not a people person!

It was a three-day event for us.  We were wined and dined and put up in a foo foo hotel.  He didn't get tired until 12 minutes from home!  We got to swim in the hotel pool twice!

Here's a link to his speech on YouTube:

Here he is in his "office" in the hotel.  We LOVE wifi!


Linda Swanekamp said...

Well, you gave me a good cry this morning. I had no idea that this organization existed. It is so amazing. I had no idea that Owen had a disability- he always seems so busy and energized that he puts most kids his age to shame. Congratulations to Owen and family!

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