By Diana Burger, ALTA Foundation President
It seems everyone bid a fond farewell to 2020, in which the pandemic reached far and wide to disrupt the lives of people across the globe. Fortunately for the ALTA Foundation, 2021 proved to be much more positive and upbeat, as many of the programs we support were able to return to servicing their communities. Plus, we were thrilled to have several new partnership opportunities arise.
We had hoped to see the Georgia Special Olympics return in 2021, but due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, it again was postponed. But when one door closes, another one opens; thanks to Jim Hamm and Special Pops, the Spring Classic, a one-day, competitive tennis event for the intellectually disabled community, was born. Reduced in size and scale from the Special Pops Annual Fall Classic, this event made some Special Olympic tennis players very happy. The foundation was proud to be the title sponsor for the day. Special Pops also was able to host its annual Fall Classic again in September of this year, and once again we were happy to lend support to this fabulous event!
Keeping Pace, a month-long summer learning program held at Pace Academy for middle school kids from the Peoplestown area of Atlanta, also was able to conduct camp again. In addition to supplemental reading, writing and arithmetic classes, the kids in this program are introduced to tennis. With support from the ALTA Foundation, a certified tennis coach is on hand daily to run drills and teach the fundamentals of tennis to these kids, some of whom have never picked up a racquet.
Firsts for the foundation this year include support for Tennis People and Blaze Sports. Both organizations provide adaptive sports and recreational programs to youth and adult athletes. Additionally, Blaze Sports offers a new, weekly tennis program for disabled veterans. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with both organizations.
In another first, the foundation sponsored a junior tennis clinic at Sugar Creek Tennis Center with more than 60 participating community tennis association players as part of “An Evening with Katrina Adams” event in August.
For the sixth year, L. Keith Wood Memorial Scholarships were awarded by the ALTA Foundation. We are grateful to the family of our former ALTA President and Board Chairman, Keith Wood, for their continued support and funding of this program. Thanks to the Wood Family’s generous donations, more than $100,000 in college scholarship funds have been awarded to outstanding high school graduates who have played in ALTA Junior leagues. It has been my honor and pleasure to help select some of these amazing kids as our scholarship winners.
Our START program, created in 2019 to help Title I high school tennis programs in need of assistance obtain and fund a certified tennis coach, continues to show promising results. Piloted in Cobb County, we are now planning to expand this program into other Title I high schools in other metro-Atlanta area counties.
While 2020 was a year of uncertainty, we’re glad to be moving forward in 2021. The ALTA Foundation was created to help provide tennis to underserved, physically and intellectually challenged communities. If you see a need that fits our mission, we would love to hear from you. It’s the support of our ALTA members that make these programs such a great success. Donations are always welcome. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.