Little Miracles and HERO, Inc. celebrate 30 years of service to people with disabilities
In 2022, HERO, Inc. (Help Expand Recreation Opportunities) is celebrating 30 years of service to the disabled community using adapted tennis. Over its three decades, HERO has worked with over 18,000 youth, adolescents and adults living with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism, developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, hearing and visual impairments, PTSD, emotional illness, and others termed “at-risk.”
Joelle - the David Osterer Center (Rye Brook, N.Y.)
Joelle not only faced the challenges of cerebral palsy, but was also blind. She was, however, very determined! Using high density “balls with bells” and assisted by dedicated staff, she hit several balls over the net. Her joy was boundless.
Visually Impaired teens - New York Institute for Special Education
HERO worked with extraordinary adolescents with limited vision, watching as these teenagers helped one another while dealing with their own limitations. One young woman was really struggling, but one of her classmates immediately came to her assistance. He gently gripped her racquet and together, they returned several volleys successfully. A smile spread across her face and she proceeded to hit on her own.
Pre-schoolers living with Autism - WARC (Hawthorne, N.Y.)
Working with tots living with autism was not easy, but one amazing instructor, Dottie, was undaunted. Using adapted equipment and her own instructional strategies, she established a very positive rapport with each child. One little boy could not communicate at all, but Dottie worked her magic and sure enough, she walked into class one day and got an enthusiastic greeting. His teachers were astonished!
HERO’s mantra has always been “fun, fitness and positive social experiences.” Tennis has been the vehicle, not the goal. Enjoyment, feeling better about oneself and the ability to interact with others in a pleasant and relaxed environment are what the organization strives for.
HERO has a dream: That one day, every tennis player in the country will devote one hour per week, as a volunteer, to a group of people with disabilities to share this special experience. Imagine what a country that would be.