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Making a Difference on the Tennis Court – Stories Behind the Faces

May 2016 -- Since its inception in 2006, ThanksUSA has awarded nearly 3,700 scholarships totaling more than $11 million. By partnering with ThanksUSA, USPTA has donated $11,000 to the organization, and its divisions and members have donated more than $65,000 to the general scholarship fund in the last three years.

ThanksUSA scholarship recipients are genuine, caring and talented individuals whose lives are positively affected through fundraising events hosted by tennis professionals across the country.  

While volunteering at a summer school for the deaf,  Air Force dependent Jasmine Ruffin witnessed many students struggling to learn because of communication barriers. With the assistance of a $3,000 USPTA/ThanksUSA scholarship, Ruffin is majoring in Deaf Studies at California State University of Northridge.

Ruffin plans to work with deaf children and their hearing family members to bridge the gap between the deaf education and mainstream education systems. She has also represented ThanksUSA scholars at Tennis Thanks the Troops events in California.

“I am very honored and grateful for being selected as a recipient of the USPTA/ThanksUSA scholarship,” Ruffin said. ‘Your generosity will continue to inspire my success in life and my academic endeavors!”

Ruffin shares her gratitude by volunteering at events; she even taught a USPTA Pro how to sign at the USPTA California Division Convention this year.

Other ThanksUSA scholarship recipients directly benefitted from the efforts of the Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth, Ga., and its tennis director, Todd Assini. Through themed mixers and a silent auction, six named scholar-ships have been awarded to Berkeley Hills Country Club/ThanksUSA scholars. In fact, the events have been so successful that for the past three years, Berkeley Hills received the grand prize of a trip for two to the US Open for the largest amount donated in the name of the Tennis Thanks The Troops campaign.

In 2015, Marine Corps dependent Bethany Flournoy was awarded one of the $3,000 Berkeley Hills Country Club/ ThanksUSA scholarships to continue nursing studies at Georgia College & State University. Flournoy’s ultimate goal is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner at a children’s hospital.

“By working for such an amazing healthcare facility, I will be able to give back to the community while healing sick and injured children,” Flournoy said. “I aspire to help children regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances.  A life is a life, and a child’s life is the life of our future.”

Flournoy said she is thankful for the donors that made it possible for her to attend college without the guilt of putting her family in debt.

“I am able to focus more on the most important aspects of school and life – learning and giving back. I hope to be able to help struggling college students from a military background achieve their goals just as your gracious scholar-ship has done for me,” she said. “Thank you again, for not only investing in my future, but also the futures of those lives I will save once I am a pediatric nurse.”

The USPTA San Diego Division has also made a significant impact on its community by spreading tennis while supporting military families at their annual Tennis Fest. The event added a donation option on the registration form and organized a silent auction to benefit Thanks-USA’s mission.

“Tennis Thanks the Troops was a perfect fit when our Tennis Fest committee was looking for a worthy charity,” USPTA Elite Pro Geoff Griffin said. “Helping the children and spouses of active military personnel really motivates us in a big military town like San Diego.”

One of this year’s awardees was Kirsten Farinas, the spouse of an active-duty Marine. With the assistance of a $3,000 San Diego Tennis Association/ ThanksUSA scholarship, Farinas will graduate from National University in San Diego and plans to sit for the CPA exam next summer.

“The San Diego District Tennis Association is proud to have supported ThanksUSA and Tennis Thanks the Troops through our annual Tennis Fests, which have resulted in six $3,000 educational scholarships being awarded to very deserving members of San Diego military families,” said USPTA Pro Steve Kappes, who is also a former career Navy officer. “We encourage other tennis groups to join us in this very worthwhile program!”

Please consider hosting an event in 2016. To learn more, visit
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