In 2013, when Allison Davis and Emma Traynor were just sophomores at Riverview High School in Sarasota, they formed BUDS Tennis [Bringing Up Down Syndrome], an organization that teaches tennis to people with Down syndrome. Allison’s triplet sister, Sarah, who has Down syndrome and loved playing tennis, was the inspiration.
Today, the group holds weekly clinics at the Out of Door Academy in Sarasota where about 25 students receive one-on-one attention. Instructors meet the abilities of the athletes and celebrate every achievement or hurdle, no matter how small they may seem to the mainstream world. The athletes have taught Allison to appreciate the little things in life and how to see the game of tennis in a new light.
“What goes on in our 90 minute clinics is not a different sport, but it certainly is not the atmosphere of your average tennis clinic. Tennis is supposed to be the perfect combination of crazy fun, goals met, and constant improvement, and I honestly believe that our athletes teach me that combination every time I step foot onto the courts,” said Allison.
The goal of the organization is to make a significant impact in as many lives as possible. So to that end and to help grow adaptive tennis, BUDS Tennis merged with Buddy Up Tennis Inc. [BuddyUpTennis.com], a nonprofit charitable organization with 14 locations in 9 states.
When Allison and Emma left for college in fall of 2015, they formed a leadership team in Sarasota to carry on their mission. Allison attends George Washington University in DC and is still actively involved in the organization, but Kendri Cruz is the new program coordinator.
“Kendri, along with our amazing coaches (JP Bellissimo, Kathy Rosenberg, Amy Lyons, Rich Sobieray), and dedicated Buddies are ensuring that every one of our athletes is learning, improving, reaching their highest goals, and most importantly having the times of their lives on the courts!” said Allison, adding “There are so many people helping Down students, and their dedication is something that I could have only dreamed of two and half years ago. No idea or dream is too big. As long as you’re passionate and willing to work hard with your mission in mind, anything can be become a reality.”