A good time for a good cause.
That was the focal point of Pablo Arraya’s Tennis and Autism community fundraising event which was held March 15 at the Key Biscayne Tennis Association.
“We just wanted to do something to try and give back to the community,” the former top 30 ATP tennis pro said about combining charity with his passions for sports and people.
Arraya’s children, Hanna and Chole Arraya, initiated the idea planning an autism benefit with their dad.
“My daughters have a big interest in helping to fight autism,” Arraya said between practice sessions. “They are very passionate about it. They know people personally who have been impacted by autism, so they really want to do something to help. And I thought it was a great idea.”
Autism is a mental condition that typically becomes apparent in children about age 3, and is characterized by communication difficulties; problems forming relationships and understanding abstract concepts. People affected with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) sometimes have difficulties with motor coordination; however, autistic people sometimes excel in visual skills, music, math and artistic endeavors.
According to The Center for Disease control, 1 in 88 boys and 1 in 345 girls in South Florida have ASD. The disorder affects an estimated 2 million people in the United States.
Arraya was be joined by his friends and fellow professionals in the tennis world to bring people together for a common good. The event included tennis fundamentals, food and fun. Donations were given to the University of Miami Autism Research Department.
Key Biscayne native Irene de Cardenas was thrilled about the idea of someone on the island joining the fight against autism. An media specialist at the Key Biscayne K-8 Center, de Cardenas has a 27-year-old son, Frankie, who is affected by autism.
“My son is 27 and when he was first diagnosed, nobody knew what it was, now at least everybody knows what it is.”
De Cardenas believes sports and physical activities are a positive way of dealing with the disability.
“Absolutely, they sleep great,” de Cardenas said about autistic kids when they participate in sports. “Just like any other child, the more physical activity they have everything functions better.
Tennis promotes hand-eye coordination and motor skill development while providing an outlet for social interaction. Those affected with ASD are believed to benefit from the repetitive aspects of the sport.
Arraya’s benefit to assist in the fight against autism was just another positive way to use tennis to help the community.
“We are part of the community,” Arraya said. “So it’s all about giving back to the community. And we really want to do that.”