Serving Autism On and Off The Tennis Court

Legacy Love Serving Autism Board Team’s Campaign to Support LSA’s Gala

Sam Jolley

I first got involved with LSA because we were looking for as many activities that our son Brandon, who is on the spectrum, could participate in that provided a safe environment for him to socialize and be active. As I learned more about LSA, I decided to become more involved as a parent volunteer coach and ultimately a board member. LSA has meant so much to our family. We have met so many wonderful people who have become lifelong friends. Lisa’s passion and desire to grow and reach as many families as possible is inspiring. I have enjoyed being a part of the journey with such an amazing organization. The benefits to Brandon have been endless, however I feel that I have benefited as much as he. It’s so rewarding to be a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself. LSA definitely provides a joy in mine and my family’s life. I’m excited to see where we go as an organization as we continue to grow.

Megan Dodge
Board Member/Parent Liaison

Megan and her family have resided in South Florida since 2015 and was fortunate to enroll her son, Max in a charter school for children with autism. Max was diagnosed with autism shortly before his second birthday. Megan became a parent volunteer at her son’s school and through the school she met Speech-Language Therapist, Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix. Lisa invited Max to enroll in a non-profit tennis program for autistic children and adults. Megan and her husband, Robert felt like it was fate meeting Lisa and learning about an adaptive tennis program geared towards their son’s disability because Robert grew up playing competitive tennis and is still passionate about the sport today as a recreational player. Having the chance to teach their son a sport that is a family favorite in a safe and stress-free environment where the entire family can participate together on a Saturday afternoon is invaluable. Max’s older teenage sister, Madeleine recently started playing competitive tennis and enjoys volunteering and spending time with the kids at the Love Serving Autism summer and holiday day camps. As a parent of a special needs child and a neurotypical child, Megan is all too familiar with the challenges of finding extracurricular activities and sports that are structured and designed to meet the needs of autistic individuals. Autistic individuals need and deserve to have access to sports programs like Love Serving Autism which gives them a much-needed sense of belonging, camaraderie and accomplishment in a safe and supportive environment. Max, like most individuals on the autism spectrum, receives speech, occupational and physical therapies to improve and strengthen his motor skills and to develop speech. Learning to play tennis addresses these therapeutic needs for Max with muscle strengthening, improved hand & eye coordination and using a communication board on the court to communicate needs more effectively. A favorite sentiment of Megan’s that was stated by a fellow special needs parent is, “there’s no better place than a place where our children can fully be themselves and they don’t have to hide who they are” and with this thought in mind Love Serving Autism is “that place” for her son Max.

Nicole Messer

It is my honor and pleasure to support Love Serving Autism as a 2022 Legacy of the Year Team Candidate! According to the 2022 statistics, 1 in every 100 children is diagnosed with Autism. I am a commercial real estate broker and a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Horses are incredibly therapeutic for everyone and it is my passion to work with them to serve the special needs community. I met Lisa in 2017 when she had just started Love Serving Autism we both share a strong friendship, passion and commitment to serve the special needs and Autism community. I believe and it is my goal to do everything we can to support and provide fun and therapeutic activities for children with Autism and their families!

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