HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A special group of athletes is learning tennis and other sports this week at a camp at Quinnipiac University. The center is named for tennis great Ivan Lendl and welcomes athletes of all abilities and disabilities.
Summer sports camp can be a lot of fun, especially if you don’t look like what some people think an athlete looks like.
“Really fun, really great to see everybody who is really similar to me because, obviously, they don’t have a lot of camps for people who are adaptive,” said Cheshire teenager Sarah Reid, who suffered limb loss in both her legs.
Her prosthetics don’t slow Sarah down, however. Camp wheelchair tennis coach Harlon Matthews lost the use of his legs at 15.
“I literally did not start playing sports until ’01 when I was 34,” Matthews said. “I don’t want the kids to have to wait 19 years like I did.”
That is why the Ivan Lendl Adaptive Sports Camp exists. Through the Hospital for Special Care, they’ve been doing programs like this for more than 30 years. This year, it’s at Quinnipiac University. Kids of all ages and all abilities can come here to learn, move and have fun, and nobody cares how fast you can run or even if you can run.
The camp is about more than just feeling good, however. Everybody knows that exercise is good for the body, and that goes for everybody.
“Our goal is to keep kids moving,” explained Wendy DeAngelo, Vice President at the Hospital for Special Care. “To reduce the incidents of co-morbid health disorders that can come with not having a lot of activity in your life, like hypertension, diabetes, obesity.”
Seeing how these young athletes adapt to play sports is always amazing.
“That I can do everything just the same as they can, just a tad bit different,” said Emily Reid, Sarah’s sister, who is missing part of her left arm.
Watching these athletes at work can make anyone rethink what an athlete looks like.