ACE OUT ALS: 24 Tennis Lessons in 24 HOURS
In 2014, my wife’s sister, Lynne Grainger, lost her five-year-long battle with ALS. For the last five months of her life, she came to Marietta to live in our family’s home under the outstanding care of my wife, Heather. Prior to my sister-in-law’s arrival, my wife and I sat down with Polly Hogue to prepare our family to live with someone with ALS. Polly lost her husband to ALS and has since been an active supporter and advocate in fighting this horrible disease.
Nearly nine years later, we sat down with Polly again and explained the concept of Ace Out ALS. She pointed us toward the Hop on a Cure Foundation, Inc. After being diagnosed with ALS in December of 2021, John Driskell Hopkins, a member of the Zac Brown Band, co-founded the organization with his wife, Jennifer Hopkins. Their organization supports research to prevent, reverse, and cure ALS while raising awareness and spreading support for those affected. We decided that their organization was the best suited for our fundraising and we got to work planning the event.
When I first told Shaun Boyce my plan to teach tennis lessons for 24 hours straight and asked him if his company, GoTennis! Atlanta could promote the event, he told me, “Sure Carver! I can do the hard part while you do the easy part — teaching 24 straight hours in August in Atlanta!”
Was I crazy for wanting to do this? Yes. Did the thought of teaching for 24 hours straight scare me a little bit? Yes. However, my dad once told me that the things that scare you are good as they will push you and make you grow.
Was this going to be difficult? Yes. But not nearly as difficult as the battle that every person suffering from ALS faces on a daily basis.
With the eager help of my family, we spread the word and prepared for registration to begin on July 1st. We secured a sponsorship from Wilson Sporting Goods and within the first 48 hours of its opening, all 24 hours were booked.
The lessons began at 9 am on Saturday, August 5. Hour after hour people showed up with high energy and anticipation to participate in this event. In total, we had eighty adults and five junior players take lessons and I enjoyed every hour with every group. It was incredibly special to have friends, former students, and current players stop by to see what we were doing and make donations. Throughout the 24 hours, people shared their own stories of losing a dear friend or family member to ALS. These stories were incredibly impactful and showed me the reality of how many people are affected by the disease.
I’m pleased to share that we raised over $7,100 for Hop on a Cure, Inc! I want to give a huge thank you to all those who donated and supported us, and another major thank you to my family for being courtside to lend their support throughout the entire 24 hours!
If you want to donate or learn more, please go to https://hoponacure.org!
Rob Carver, USPTA ELITE PRO
Author of 366 DAYS OF TENNIS