2006 Wheelchair tennis champion of the year: Bruce Karr
Bruce Karr, a wheelchair athlete himself, has dedicated more than two decades to helping others get just what they need to compete at their highest level. To do this nationally, he established the National Wheelchair Sports Fund (nwsf.org) in 1986, which helps defray the costs of travel and other expenses for wheelchair tennis players.
But that’s not all. Karr and the NWSF also sponsor wheelchair events and are advocates for wheelchair players. And for all his efforts, Karr is RSI’s 2006 Wheelchair Champion of the Year.
Karr, who competed in four Paralympic Games including the first one in Rome in 1960, says he often saw top athletes turn down an offer to participate in the prestigious event because they didn’t have the funds for travel. “It was getting to the point where I was helping to raise money for athletes,” he says.
He and his wife, Verena, founded the NWSF to help wheelchair athletes across the U.S. in tennis and other sports by providing for equipment, travel, training, and other needs. With an annual budget of $250,000, raised through donations and contributions, the NWSF also presents the Florida Open International Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Boca Raton, which is also the USTA National Wheelchair Hardcourts. Considered the biggest wheelchair tourney in the world, the event attracts 200 players a year, and the NWSF provides for lodging and meals.
“The NWSF is a leader in creating opportunity for people with disabilities,” says Dan James, the USTA’s national manager for Wheelchair Tennis.
Bruce Karr’s tips for success
- Appeal to corporations and their charitable foundations, especially those in your area. Also, hospitals and rehab centers often are willing to be identified with proactive programs and may have a budget for donations.
- Start a fund-raising campaign, which can build a base of individual donors and ensure future contributions. Apply for USTA grants at the district, section, and national levels.
- Appeal to companies in the business of supplying to the needs of the disabled population.
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.