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TO GIVE, TO INSPIRE | Buddy Up for Life




Their Mission is to Offer Customized Programs that Proactively Embrace these Challenges in Order for

Athletes with Down Syndrome Thrive

NAPERVILLE–It has become more and more apparent in the past few decades how physical fitness can be a benefit to people in all generations. We are bombarded with multitudes of choices including unique training gyms, (can anyone say goat yoga or aerial arts?), in-home programs like Peloton, and hundreds of new approaches and training through social media. Whatever sport or program you work with, it is no doubt a huge benefit to your physical and mental health. We are all at risk of degeneration, but some more than others. Individuals born with Down Syndrome (DS) are at an increased risk of health complications and mental challenges. Very often, they have atypical development of motor skills and are more susceptible to low muscle-tone, looseness of ligaments, obesity and type 2 diabetes. As well, adults and children with DS face challenges in behavioral activity that can lead to depression and anxiety. The national organization Buddy Up For Life was created with these risks in mind. Their mission is to offer customized programs that proactively embrace these challenges in order for athletes with Down Syndrome thrive.


Katie Finke, who has a teenage son with DS, remembers hearing about Buddy Up For Life and wishing their was a program closer to them. As an avid tennis player and coach, she was excited when Five Star Tennis Center in Plainfield partnered up with Buddy Up For Life. Katie is now the Buddy Up Tennis Coordinator for the Naperville chapter of the organization Along with Buddy Up Fitness Coordinator Jennifer Kurtovic, they hold a weekly high-energy adaptive tennis and fitness program for children and adults with Down Syndrome. “We enable our athletes to reach their fullest potential by providing a unique environment that combines tennis, fitness and social activities through our weekly 90-minute clinics,” says Katie. “Tennis experience is not required.”


Athletes are partnered with volunteer Buddies to reinforce the Coach’s instructions, provide support and develop friendships. Buddy Up believes in pushing their athletes to reach their highest potential while also making it fun. “I love that we still have the same athletes, plus so many more, coming to the clinic 8 years later,” says Katie. “It is also a great opportunity for parents to come watch and catch up with other parents in the DS community.”


To find out more about Buddy Up For Life or becoming a Buddy volunteer, please visit their website at www.buddyupforlife.org or email Katie at napervilletennis@buforlife.org. www.buddyupforlife.org


ABOUT THE WRITER

Mindy Kyle is passionate about helping people discover what brings them joy and to live a full, healthy and happy life. She has her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from DePaul University and is a veteran of Chicago’s theater and commercial world as well as a graduate of the Second City Improv School. Mindy lives in Naperville with her husband, three children and the cutest dogs in the land.


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