Five years ago Larry Lahey created the Chatham South Tennis Academy hoping to make a difference and raise funds for a cause that has had an effect locally.
The annual summer Academy, which runs from July 2-11 at the Doug Allin tennis courts in Chatham, donates its proceeds to Jesse’s Journey, a foundation dedicated to finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
“There’s a face to it here in town,” Lahey said of a local boy who wishes to remain unidentified.
The disorder causes muscle weakness beginning in the lower limbs in the body with most cases affecting males as early as infancy.
Often, those with DMD eventually utilize braces for walking or a wheelchair for mobility as the severity of the dystrophy increases.
“The reason was to bring instruction to kids this side of town and to make some money for Jesse’s Journey,” said Lahey.
Each year Lahey has seen the number of participants, all between the ages of 10 to 18 years old, grow to this year’s total of 36.
Former high school teacher Lahey, who has had experience playing club tennis for over a decade, said the event will have raised approximately $3,000 for the foundation over the years.
With the kids having fun and getting fit, Lahey says it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
“Some parents not only pay to send their children here, but they add on money,” said Lahey.
The eight day classes gives the young participants an introduction to the world of tennis, including how to grip a racket properly, learning a variety of swings and how to serve.
“The 12 hours they spend here is not going to make them into terrific tennis players, but knowing how to play helps in encouraging them to play on their own – they have a chance,” said Lahey.