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USTA Florida awards Lee County Special Olympics program

February 24, 2006 01:40 PM

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A Special Olympics day was held Feb. 11 at the Pelican Preserve in Ft. Myers, and two-time Australian Open Champion and current Wimbledon Senior Men’s Doubles Champion Johan Kriek was the highlight of the day!  Tennis-playing residents of Pelican Preserve had the rare opportunity to test their skills by hitting with Johan.

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A unique aspect of this tennis event was the inclusion of 17 Special Olympics athletes from the Lee County community tennis association’s (CTA) special populations program.  Johan hit the courts with these players on Saturday afternoon, and their faces beamed with joy.

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A luncheon was served with cold cuts and beverages, and Johan led a Q & A session.  The session was described by some as “colorful,” “enlightening,” and “enjoyable.”

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Lee County CTA Special Olympics head coach Bob Bueckert and assistant coach Jane Herrington were honored by USTA Florida.  Bob and Jane were recognized for their endless dedication to provide weekly tennis classes for the Lee County CTA Special Olympics athletes. 

USTA Florida Director of Community Development Linda Curtis was thrilled to present the 2005 USTA Florida Community Service Award to Bob and Jane in front of their loyal athletes. Curtis said the success of winning the award is evident in the tremendous improvement in the athleticism of the Special Olympics individuals.

Curtis, once the Special Olympics coach in Lee County, drove almost nine hours in a 24-hour time period so she could attend this event.

“It was an absolutely outstanding day for Special Olympics in Lee County!” Curtis said.  “My co-workers thought I was crazy to drive so much, but it was worth every mile!”

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