On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Students for Alzheimer’s club at OHS hosted the third annual tennis tournament to benefit Memory Makers, a respite day care center that provides help and activities to people affected by Alzheimer’s.
The tournament was a mixed doubles round-robin style tournament with no bracket and no winners or losers. Former OHS Student and founder of the club, Jack Ligon, originally chose this format at the first tournament in 2016 to make it inviting to people of all skill levels and it has been kept since.
“I figured doing a tennis tournament would be unique and also create a draw for the tennis community,” Ligon said. “Even people who don’t play a lot of tennis can come out. It’s just a really chill event.”
Ligon chose to donate the money to Memory Makers organization because he liked their focus on maintaining dignity. Memory Makers had just lost a federal grant, and Ligon wanted to help them keep their doors open.
“At Memory Makers, you aren’t called a patient, you are called a participant,” Ligon said. “There is kind of a blurred line between volunteer and participant, where some participants think they’re volunteers, and I think that’s just really awesome.”
Recently, Memory Makers regained parts of the grant they lost, and Ligon feels that it’s partially because of the work he and other members of the OHS Students for Alzheimer’s club have done on the tournament and raising money for the organization.
“Now they’ve gotten parts of that grant back, and I really feel like this tournament has helped them out a lot, helped them recover when they were in their darkest hour,” Ligon said.
The tournament was run by OHS juniors Carter Young, Brown Turner, and Downing Koestler. Ligon passed the tournament down to them when he graduated last May.
“The best part of running the tournament is just being able to help out,” Young said. “I’m just glad to be able to help people with Alzheimer’s in any way possible.”
The tournament raised approximately $17,700 this year for the Memory Makers organization through a combination of sponsorships, entry fees, and a silent auction.
“Last year, we raised about $15,000 in total and this year we’ve already raised more than that not including entry fees and what we’re gonna make from the silent auction,” Young said. “I’m just glad to be able to help those affected with Alzheimer’s and help their families through the Memory Makers program.”
Young has had a close relationship with the disease throughout his life. His great grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
“On my mom’s side, there is a pretty good track record of Alzheimer’s,” Young said. “Alzheimer’s is just a very sad disease.”
The OHS Students for Alzheimer’s also volunteers at the Blake, an assisted living facility in Oxford. They volunteer there for around an hour most Sundays.
“It’s just really rewarding to talk to these people because they need someone to talk to and they do have really great stories,” Turner said. “They’re just really nice people.”