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STRIDE Adaptive Sports Names Dave Graham 2022 Volunteer of the Year & Joe Pierson as Athlete of the Year

(West Sand Lake, NY, 8/26/22) – STRIDE Adaptive Sports named Dave Graham as STRIDE Volunteer of the Year and Joe Pierson as STRIDE Athlete of the year. Both Graham and Pierson have been involved with STRIDE since the mid-2000s.

Dave Graham serves as Program Leader for STRIDE’s Tennis Program. Dave began his journey with STRIDE in 2010 when he was looking for a sports program for his son who has autism. After positive experiences he and his son had with STRIDE, Dave agreed to take over STRIDE‘s tennis program which was a fledgling summer event. He created a tennis curriculum and format for individuals with disabilities including wheelchair tennis players that emphasizes basic fundamental tennis skills while providing the opportunity for social interaction and a place to have fun! After over a decade of stellar service, with the advent of a pandemic, Dave rose to the occasion to teach STRIDE tennis players with disabilities that they can have fun and play the game even while at home during quarantine by making fun videos for virtual skill development. When it became reasonably safe to return to in-person play, he got our program back on the courts. He has fantastic volunteer assistance too, his father David Senior, wife Michelle, daughter Rory, and a number of HS students which help make the program run seamlessly.

“STRIDE is so thankful for Dave’s leadership and sharing his passion for the sport of tennis. He has taken a small fledgling program and built it to become a mainstay for STRIDE athletes to learn beginning through competition tennis skills. His dedication to STRIDE athletes has been transformative for our program,” said STRIDE CEO Mary Ellen Whitney.

STRIDE Athlete Joe Pierson received the STRIDE Athlete of the Year Award. He has been a part of STRIDE’s swimming program since 2015. Joe continuously puts forth his best at every practice. He is determined to grow personally and as an athlete. This high level of dedication, sportsmanship and leadership is infectious. He cheers on teammates during difficult sets and reminds them of their lofty goals.

A true testament to Joe’s commitment to helping others was when he began early Saturday morning practice to volunteer with beginner swimmers. Joe worked to teach freestyle, backstroke and critical swim skills to a new learner, who joined the swim team after Joe’s help. For these reasons Joe was named STRIDE Stingray's Swim Team Captain.

“Joe has definitely set a very admiring bench mark for aspiring athletes at STRIDE. His dedication in and out of the pool inspires other athletes to do their best, and I am proud to have him on the swim team” said Swim Team Coach Emelia Carlino.

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