Thank you Notes

Kaitlin Reflects

Kaitlin with Foundation Alum Ozzie Tavares

Kaitlin with Foundation Alum Ozzie Tavares

Today was such an amazing day I'm not even sure I can put it into words.  Since I've come back from college I've been doing a lot of thinking.  What I want my summer objectives to be what coming back to the Foundation means to me, where I want to go in life and who I want to be.  And I'd kind of settled into what seemed to a few different themes of my life currently.  The first is starting over.  When I quit tennis, I assumed it would be forever.  My pride was too big to ever go back to the academy or really be associated.  I was young and ignorant.  I didn't see that tennis was so much more than a sport at this point in my life. I got a job and good grades and thought I was doing well for myself.  And slowly Ozzie began to tip toe back into my life and with that he brought the idea of "greatness." Now at the time I was doing fine, but having felt and experienced what I had with the Foundation, deep down I knew it wasn't quite right. I was doing okay, better than most. But I wasn't my best. I tried on my own to be great and seemed to be faced with what felt like a string of just mistakes and tripping over my own feet. I could have sworn the harder I tried to be better at life the worse I got. The beginning of my freshman year of college was a blur of this. Trying to get up and spring only to trip again. Somewhere in there I started to do really well. I thought I was beginning to reach even a small amount of my potential, only to find after winter break I tripped myself again.

A few nights ago I was discussing with my friend Tim the concept of greatness and what it means to be your best and I explained to him how it felt like I might never be able to stand up and stay up in life. And as these words slipped out of my mouth I realized how silly they were. And it was in that moment that I decided to dive 100% in. Not just to work or school, but all of life. I had been afraid to fully emerge myself in these waters for so long. But in doing so now, I've began to feel the ripples slowly hitting me. The absolute best feeling in the world is knowing you gave every last thing you had to give that day, and then going to bed with a smile proud. These past few days I've felt so alive, like I probably haven't since I was 14 or 15. And the worlds through many tough trials and adversities at me already and I've overcome them with stride.  The reason I started this long tangent was because today I was listening to Starting Over by Macklemore. And I think about what I have to offer these kids all the time. I quit. I messed up. And today I realized I'm a perfect example of even if you mess up or fall off the tracks, you can always come back to center and go home. I think that is what I want this summer to be about for me. Coming home and giving back. I know I would not be where I am today without you Wolfington. You saved my life. Coming to this Foundation changed me in ways I will never be able to forget or deny. I have a full ride scholarship to a tier one school. And I started working today at 8 am and I just got home and I've never felt better. I'm still not sure what this summer has in store for me but I know it will lead to great things.

Thank you from Samantha

A few years ago, if anyone told me I had won any form of a sportsmanship award, I would have called them insane. As Ryan mentioned, I was at a crossroads, minutes away from quitting and leaving all the suffering behind. But when I came to No Quit, I eventually felt a change. With help from Tim and Ryan I was finally able to enjoy what I was doing and honestly, for the first time in my life, I was finally putting in the work. Maybe that was why I had felt so uncharacteristically happy. I felt I had finally earned what I had gotten and for the first time in a while, I felt like I had made the right decisions. Everyone in this chat has helped me through these years. My mom would do anything for me and refused to let me quit for all those years, something I am now very grateful for. Trent, for being there and doing anything to help me, no matter how small. Erin, for trusting me enough to help her and making me realize how important it is to pass it on. Nicole, for being my best friend and always giving me that push in the right direction. Ryan, for comforting me when things were tough and truly showing me how to lead a happy and fulfilling life. And of course Tim, someone who over that past few years has become not only my coach, but someone I see as a real friend who has gone above and beyond in helping me reach goals I didn't even know I had. I know this message is long and a bit rambling but I just wanted to express how grateful I am for everyone in this message and how happy my life in Vegas has made me. Thank you all for being you and believing in me when I definitely did not. :)

- Samantha Martinelli

Thank you from Selena

To whom it may concern,

I just wanted to say thank-you so much for giving me this opportunity. This foundation, this retreat, it has a culture to it. And I know I’m young and I haven’t experienced everything yet, but this place, these people are far and away the best I’ve come to know. They see and inspire the best in me. You see others taking initiative, getting the job done, working and expecting such a high level of their own excellence, that it makes me want to do the same.

Furthermore, the kindness, wisdom, and openness on the retreat this year is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, every trip I go on with this foundation is magical, inspiring, and uplifting in its own right, but the 2015 winter retreat has the number one spot in my opinion. I’m not sure if it's because I’m at an age where I can fully appreciate everything the alumni and speakers have to say, but when 35 or 40 of us all open up about our biggest regrets, highlights, and insights of the year, it's incredible. I cried: first tears of sadness for my regrets, and later of joy for the opportunity (which is beautifully strange for me because I’m not usually one to cry!) This opportunity has been such a blessing in so many ways and I feel I have gained so much wisdom and meaningfulness with my friends and mentors. Thank-you so much.

Yours truly,

Selena Williams

Laurie Steed Letter to McKay Novak

Mckay –

I can’t tell you how much your heartfelt letter means to me.  So many people think that “successful business people” have everything?, but we go through the same personal struggles daily –often times on a much larger scale.   

It’s letter’s like this from someone like you, coming out of nowhere –that helps me put into perspective what I work so hard for everyday seem worth it. 

I have motivational quote’s all over my office – to keep me inspired – one I look at as I walk in & leave is:

When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for long in the first place.

I never had positive mentors growing up or the financial resources to go to college. 

I find it incredibly rewarding to know that I’ve in some small way helped a young person make, their life a little easier or helped in a small way to give them some tools to get a better education so that they might be able to have a better life. 

I’ve never in my life known anyone like Ryan who gives so much of their personal time & energy towards helping others.  So many people can offer cash donations, but to put their personal time, energy, is beyond any person I’ll ever meet.

It’s knowing that individuals like you realize what the Foundation has done to help them & will continue to help others, makes it all work & will continue to work to help so many others.

I can’t thank you enough for sending this letter.  Your letter has brought tears to me & inspired me when I really needed it. 

You have your whole life ahead and are fortunate to have the wonderful foundation “family” always with you –

You are an amazing young girl & the foundation is fortunate to have you in it for so many years helping others.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Laurie

McKay Novak Thank You Letter to Donor Laurie Steed

Dear Mrs. Steed,

I do not just want to write you a thank you letter. I want to tell you a story of how you have affected my life in a positive way and I hope that will serve as a meaningful thank you. I have been involved with the Marty Hennessy Junior Tennis Foundation since I was ten years old. I was also the first child that they started from scratch; I knew nothing of tennis and really was just following my cousin into the sport. For the first three months I was on a court all by myself just hitting with a ball machine. I worked hard and was ranked #1 in the 10's division in Las Vegas by the end of my first year. I no longer was playing because of my older cousin, I was playing because it was something I had fun with and something I had a passion for. The Foundation subsidized the cost of academy for me and even paid for a lot of the traveling costs. After a while they paid for my tournaments and covered more and more of the payments so that I could continue with the sport. The Foundation taught me about the importance of leadership and how I could apply it to other areas of my life. Consequently, my teachers in school noticed the change in me and nominated me for a leadership trip on the east coast. However this trip was 2,500 dollars and my family simply could not afford the amount. Ryan, recognizing the opportunity for me, said, "let's do some fundraising." I asked family members and friends to donate items for a raffle. I went on the strip and sold these raffle tickets with Ryan for five hours. I went around my church and asked everyone I knew. However I was still short on the total. Ryan then said he could set up a meeting with a donor for me. That donor was you. You paid 500 dollars so that I could attend this leadership trip in Washington D.C. and it was also my first time meeting or even hearing directly from a donor of the Foundation. I still remember you smiling at me and saying, "If you do not come up with enough money to fund the trip please call me. Call me if you need anything." I called my mom and squealed in excitement and told her the news of the woman who gave me more money than I had ever imagined. I was able to go on the trip. The leadership trip was a success and really gave me a lot of tools that I have used over the years. However the trip is not the most important part of the story to me. It was your generosity at a whim after meeting me that really impacted me. And it was not just that one time that I feel you have helped me out of a rut. When I was not in a good place in my life, you invited Ryan, myself, and around ten other kids to go swimming at your house. I was able to bond with the kids over the bubbles in your hot tub. During the Apprentice Competition I worked over 100 hours without a single donation. You allowed Kimberly and I to visit your restaurant contacts and those donations seriously made Kimberly and I smile ear to ear. Both of us really needed that boost to make us feel like our hard work was paying off. Lastly at the retreat, you were the one who made the entire thing possible. I was able to spend time with the alumni; people whom I have looked up to since my days on the ball machine at the Hilton. You also allowed me to aid the younger generation just like myself who are just starting to see their own potential with the help of the Foundation. From the very beginning you have been there; you have been willing to step in just when I needed it the most and I really wanted to thank you for everything: every muffin at tournaments, every contact you shared with Kimberly and me, every time you opened up your house, and every moment you have spent on myself and everyone else in the Foundation. Thank you.

McKay Novak

Ryan Wolfington Thank you to Donors

Dear donors and supporters,

Every now and then I see something that blows me away and I am led to try and show you what a major impact your support has on these children.

I could not even greet them, the emotion was too great. I cried to myself and enjoyed the incredible moment - Seeing all of the VT Marty Hennessy foundation alumni out on the tennis court, each in their full college uniforms, coming out to help the younger ones over their holiday break. Here they were passing on the tradition to the next generation of children. I did not even have to ask them to do it. They wanted to be leaders. It is now part of their tradition.
 

In past years alumni would come home for holiday break, I would call them and pass on the vision Adam Carey had given to me years earlier; that alumni should come back, give back by mentoring, coaching and leading the next generation.

Trent, Ryan and Frideric would do it, sometimes reluctantly. Eventually they complied almost every time. Then as the next generation rose and went off to college, they saw this tradition as a badge of honor. Now it was their turn to do for others what Frideric, Ryan and Trent had done for them.

Edgardo Ureta would show up to practice every day when on break freshman year. He took it to another level taking the children to lunch, dinner, spending significant time with them. He later shocked us all with a business plan and idea to intern during the Summer of his Freshman year "to give back to the foundation that helped me so much."

Patrick Kawka, now at BYU, recalled how the annual NateSchulman trip to Palm Springs years ago changed his perspective on life, tennis and who he was. It was during one of our fire side chats with all the children. Patrick was 15. We often ask the children provocative questions, showing them how to express themselves, speak in front of a crowd and get to know one another. We never know what they will say and it often has a big impact on themselves and others.

Such was the case when Frideric and Trent talked about what the foundation did for them, how the children should listen to us and how it would get them a scholarship to college. Patrick later explained how that one talk changed how he approached his life. "All of a sudden I saw I could be like Friderik and Trent one day, giving that talk. That could be me."

At that moment all the leadership talks started to make sense, he explained, where before it hadn't. "I wanted to be that person coming back telling my story, but I needed a story to tell and that motivated me. Everything changed after that."

The change Patrick is referring to is a new found love for tennis and a higher purpose. He saw himself as a developing leader and went out of his way to act like one. According to him he went from someone who "went through the motions" to someone who "now had purpose and meaning in my life. I had no direction, and now I have one, to be a leader!"

Patrick went on to become one of the foundations best captains ever.

"His senior year in high school Patrick showed up and coached every night as a volunteer and was amazing," said his coach Tim Blenkiron. "I was excited to hear he was buying into the leadership message we had been preaching for years. It was inspiring."

Now it was Patrick's turn to come back from his freshman year at college to mentor, coach and show up in his full uniform. He was the leader now passing on the tradition. Needless to say Patrick showed up every morning this past week from 8am to noon, took youth to lunch, then returned every single night from 430pm to 7pm to help the younger children. He was a rock star. 

Close to 30 foundation children have earned scholarships to college for tennis and academics in the last 5 years. It is moving to see them come back in appreciation and be leaders and mentors to the next generation.

"This could stand to be our greatest achievement," said Marty Hennessy. "Mentoring children to be mentors, in all areas of life, including tennis."

We have not only armed them with tools for life, great tennis and life changing opportunities, but passed on the power of leadership, living by example and the pleasure of passing that down to others.

When you see these children come back home young men and women, complete with such confidence, stature, and appreciation it blows your mind away. Dillon Berkabile's mother put it perfectly, "We are beyond proud."

Dillon came home after his first semester at the Citadel. He was so calm, strong and confident looking. His progress as a person blows my mind.

You could see how excited the younger children were too to see the alumni, their teammates, to play with and be like them.

Daily the alumni played soccer, hung out with the children and made a point to make most of the practices. It became a leadership competition, who could be at more practices, this is the positive peer pressure we always hoped for. They wanted to be leaders, this after years of trying to get them to be.

The daily team trips to Jamba Juice and Whole Foods cemented the messages we ingrained in the older ones, eat healthy, be a team, lead, mentor, be kind. I remember having to force them years ago to even try smoothies and Whole Foods. Now they beg for it. I recall having to beg them to come back and be leaders. Now they compete to give back the most.

Edgardo Ureta came in Friday night late and made a point to come out 8am Saturday morning even though academy is not on Saturdays. He brought a teammate from his college team, he wanted to show him our tradition, he was proud. He spent time there all day hitting with the children.

You can see the children connecting the dots,...

" If Edgardo can do it so can I! "

" I want a college scholarship like Patrick. "

" I want to be like Dillon. "

Sarah Lucas was in the pro shop talking to the 12 year old girls, they treated her like a star. Sarah is thriving in her freshman year on $60,000 annual scholarship at Seattle University.

When I asked some of the children during one of our fire side chats who is their hero and why, one young girl said "Sarah Lucas." This is the same 12 year old Sarah was talking to hours earlier in the pro shop. These children don't forget. They remember kindness, they appreciate leadership even though they can not even describe it.

Another child said "Patrick Kawka." I am shocked how these younger children even know Patrick, but he goes out of his way to make them feel special. He hits with them, comes to volunteer coach and just says "hi."

Tanner Berkabile, Dillon's younger brother, broke into tears on the recent Tomchin Family West Coast Leadership Tour saying his older brother Dillon is his hero, how he has always looked out for him and been his best supporter. Kristofer Yee talked about how much his parents have sacrificed for him and helped him. Danae said one of the foundation coaches (James) "has been like a second father to me."

Watching Marty Hennessy, Hilliary Heard, Tim Blenkiron and Adam Carey's vision for these children unfold is the most satisfying experience of my life. Although I no longer run the foundation on a day to day basis it is my most cherished hobby, seeing these children become young leaders, giving back to the foundation that has done so much for them. It's like the circle of life and everyone benefits. There is no greater experience.

I am especially proud of the captains or "Seniors" who had to work so hard as interns and leaders of our team: Frideric Prandecki, Trent Alenik, Edgardo Ureta and Dillon Berkabile. I am also grateful to Marty Hennessy, Tony Bennett, Mike Agassi, Tim Blenkiron and Adam Carey who started this quest with me 8 years ago. They always believed in what we were doing and did it with me every step of the way. Most of all I appreciate the parents who do so much work to raise their children and get so little credit. The driving, resources, support and so much more are so often not recognized. They do all the hard work so we can enjoy the fun work!

That being said none of college scholarships and success stories would be possible without the generosity and support of the countless supporters and donors of VegasTennis.com's Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation.

Each generation makes the success of the next possible and I am so very proud of their kindness, compassion and leadership. They are a living, breathing testament to what this foundation is about. To date close to 30 children have gotten scholarships to college thanks to VegasTennis.com's Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation and support from the NO QUIT Tennis Academy. 4 of them have gone on through our internship program to be honored with the moniker "Senior." Four of these children will graduate from college this year.

All of this is made possible by foundation supporters and donors like you.

You have made our work real, you have made our accomplishments possible.

Thank you.

Ryan Wolfington

Chloe Henderson Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan, 
Thank you so much for giving my sister and I the opportunity of going on the Lake Las Vegas trip. I appreciate it very much as well as all your other efforts put forth to tennis. This was one of the best experiences I have had and will never forget. Wednesday night when we went out on the strip, could have been one of the best nights of my life. I have learned so much from this trip, even more than I did at Palm Springs last year. I think looking back on the trip now, I can understand what you, our speakers, and alumni are trying to tell us. 

I think that talking in the conference room about leadership and who we thought demonstrated being a leader has made the biggest impact on me. I noticed that many of the same people were being called and I decided that I wanted to be one of them when I get older. When Sophie said that she thought I was a leader, I didn't understand why other than the fact that she is my sister and I was being nice to her. I noticed that I wasn't being a good role model for Sophie and the younger kids at night academy: talking at practice, not taking practice and tournaments seriously, and never giving my 100%. I realized that I wanted to be that "John" and that "Will" not only to Sophie but other people at the academy. 

Thank you so much for this memorable trip and experience for both my sister and I. Thank you for everything that you do for us, Lorenzi, and tennis. Every thing you do is deeply appreciated and useful for not only tennis but life itself. Thank you again. 


Love, 
Chloe Henderson

Monica Thank you Letter

Hello Trenton,

We met last Friday on the court with Marty, Ryan (I believe that's his name) and my boss, Rowen. 

Please let your boss know how grateful I am for him to spend a few minutes talking to me and giving me some great words of wisdom. Since then, I think about what he said and try to apply it to my everyday life as much as possible. I know it's only been a few days but meeting him has really made an impact on me. I even went out and bought a few books, including the Steve Jobs book. If you knew me personally, you would be amazed!

Also, Marty thinks I should play tennis more, I just might in the near future. I'll be in touch!

All my gratitude,

Monica

Joanna Cross Thank you Letter

Dear friends and supporters at the Marty Hennessy Foundation,

I would be remiss if I did not once again express our sincere thanks and appreciation for our weekend of tennis in Vegas. You provided us all with tennis, entertainment, fun, friendship and inspiration. We are all so fortunate to be part of such a rewarding and enriching experience. 

There were a lot of sad faces at the airport on Sunday as they had to leave Vegas and all it brought to us. We look forward to seeing you all in Vancouver very soon. Please know I will provide any assistance needed to ensure we can continue the exchange and continue to provide all of the kids with new opportunities and experiences. Willy will be in touch with dates of tournaments and events that may be appropriate for all.

In the meantime, please know the difference you have made in the lives of the Vancouver juniors.

My thanks and best,
Joanna Cross

Patrick Kawka Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan,

I would really like to thank you for inviting me on one of the most inspiring trips I have ever been on. It reminded me a lot about the East Coast Leadership Tour but it just so happened to be on the West Coast. I really enjoyed the calm jogs in the rain even when it got a little cold outside. Palm Springs is such a wonderful place to be in general, but it only gets better when I am able to be with all of the kids and my friends, brothers, and of course you guys. The trip was an incredible learning experience and I feel like I have become a much better leader because of it. I love being one of the kids that the little ones can look up to and it is a great feeling to watch them succeed. The entire trip was sensational but I feel that the group "confessional" in our room has to be a defining moment in my life. Watching the kids open up wounds that they thought have healed by admitting to their bad behavior was a moment of awe. I would love to do that again and I feel I will have more to say. I tried to keep my story on the happier side of things with all of the emotions already spilled upon the floor. Thank you once again for a great trip. I can't wait until next year. 

Sincerely,
Patrick Kawka

Nikki Newell Thank you Letter

Ryan,
Thank you so much for last nights bowling. It was super fun and I appreciate everything you guys do for me. I will make sure and stay focused on doing what I need to do to be successful in life. I've learned so many key things that can help me in my life from all the helpful and inspiring words that you two have said to me. I have learned how important grades are for instance, like my GPA is super important and to study for the SAT. 

Another example, is not getting distracted and not believing the lies that my mind tells me about how something that is a distraction from school or tennis looks fun, when only it would just effect me in a negative way. I really want to be successful and go to the best college possible for me, and I want to thank Ryan, and the Marty Hennessy Foundation for inspiring me in so many ways.

-Nikki Newell

Thank you Letter for JW Marriot Speaker

The meeting today was amazing. The speaker really knew what he was talking about. He said all of the usual things that speakers say but he had two points that really caught my attention. The first point that peaked my interest was, the importance of a rest period. I had heard it before, but today I really understood the importance of it. The second point is in my opinion the best thing that I have ever heard a speaker say. His point originated out of Hadrien's question about timing. He said that you have to create your own timing to achiever your goal, and that waiting for the perfect time leaves you out of control. If you wait for the perfect time you never know how long it might take for your time to come, if it ever comes. If you want to achieve your goal you have to create an opening for it, you can't just wait for it to miraculously open. Along with these two point he had many other great points like success is never final and you must achieve a certain balance in your life. He is my favorite speaker so far. I really absorbed everything he said today.

Hannah Tatlock Thank you Letter

First I would like to say thank you for allowing me to come to the event. It was a great experience.

That I learned is that you really do start at the bottom. That life does not just hand out success. No matter what situation you are in, you can always be your best and make it better. I also learned that really successful people read a lot. Which is something that I need to work on.

Once again, thank you for putting this event together. And I hope that I will get to attend more of these leadership breakfasts.

Thanks, Hannah Tatlock

Victoire Saperstein Thank you Letter

Ryan,

This is an email responding to the Leadership Breakfast which occurred on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

I have been to many of these leadership breakfasts and all of them have said this one thing continuously, WORK HARD!!! Steve, of course, said this again, but he strangely differed from the others I have met before. At first I was confused why I felt so different after the breakfast than I have felt before, but while I am typing this email I now realize that he was different because Steve himself, being our leader, had a leader of his own. When he spoke about, I believe it was J.W. Marriott Senior (the 70 year old guy), he did not have one bad comment to say about him. He could have complained about how much money the guy has or how little he cares but every time the name was brought up he only had positive things to say, now that's a leader! He explained that J.W. Marriott Seniors priorities were in order: family came first, faith came second, and then came his company. Steve then started explaining how family was his most important aspect of life and that came first before all others. I personally sometimes forget how important family is, and I tend to put things in front that I believe are more important but in the end, as Steve explained to me, family will be there through the good and bad times and they will always love you.

Marriott Hotel Company follow two motto. The first one is, "Always be courteous to the employees." I have never heard that before! I have always heard "always be courteous to the customers" but not the employees! I think this is genius, because if you think about it, happy employees means happy customers which then means good business. The second motto he shared with us was, "Success in never final." That is so very true!!! This can also divert on to the tennis court, where even though you win one set does not mean you win the match. And even though you win that match, it does not mean that you won the tournament. And even tough you won that tournament, it does not mean the next week there won't be another tournament. You have to keep on practicing and get better, just as Marriott must keep coming out with new technologies to better there hotels.

Now the most important think I took in for the breakfast was when he spoke about creating your own timing. Now that's incredible! I was always told that if you keep working hard you will get noticed, but what if you don't? And how long will it take them to notice you? Are you supposed to wait till someone dies so that you can get there post? and if so, why would you ever want to wish someone dead, that's awful!!! All of these questions were wracking my brain until Steve answered by stating "that you must create your own timing". You have to put in all you thoughts and create your own job description that will better the company and further your position. Also you will then be remembered as the person you had great ideas, and from then on will most likely not be forgotten which is the main goal in the end. To put yourself out there and get remembered.

I also now realize what it truly takes to be a leader; you must lead by example and not by yelling at someone. You can't expect to have great working employees if you don't want to put in the great work yourself. As Steve said, "A leader is always the first one to come into work and the last one to leave."

As you can see I got a lot out of this Leadership Breakfast and I want to thank Steve (of course), but especially you guys for the simple opportunity of setting this up. It was an eye-widening experience and I don't think I will ever forget what was said in that room, and all the great knowledge that was shared.

Sincerely,

Victoire Saperstein

Max Novak Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan,

Thank You for everything you have done for me throughout the years. You helped me get out of the dating scene when the only thing it could possibly bring me is disaster. I couldn't see that though because I was listening to the lie, and I was listening to the lie because I am too immature to handle such a big responsibility. That right there is just an extremely useful piece of information that I learned from you that will help me in the years to come. I am also thankful for all the trips that I get to go on because of you and the foundation. Examples of these trips are Palm Springs and the East Coast Trip, trips that I could not even dream of going on if it wasn't for you. This last year was amazing for me, I saw and did things that will shape me as a person and change my life for a long time to come and this is all thanks to you. I’m just letting you know how much I appreciate you and everything you do for me. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 

Sincerely,
Max Novak

 

Erika Mauban Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan ,

I'm sorry that it took so long to send this letter. The first time I sent it to the wrong address and when i resent it, somehow did not go through. Anyhow better late than never.
Thank you for inviting me to attend the Palm Springs trip. I truly appreciate the opportunity to get to know great leaders and hear their bildungsroman-like life stories, as well as begin to create my own personal journey.

During the past year I have undergone an immense change. I feel as if I am a completely different person. As I am sure you remember, during the 2009 trip, I was somewhat shallow and did not completely comprehend your ways. I now understand that that trip showcased my era of ?teenage rebellion? and immaturity. Although I still have my flaws, leadership opportunities offered to me within the past year, especially during the 2010 Palm Springs trip, have taught me to mature.
I remember that a year ago I repeatedly said that regrets are not regrets if something was learned. However, now I understand that it is okay, even mature, to feel regret because then one is aware that he/she was in the wrong. The difference between last year's firepit and this year's ?firepit,? is like night and day. Last year I felt guarded and insecure, while this year I learned to embrace my emotions and show my true personality.

Furthermore, when we were gathered in the conference room to list our strengths and weaknesses, I felt as if I knew myself better. I learned to channel my strengths to benefit me and minimize my weaknesses. For me, the highlight of the trip was when you told me that I was born with the special strength to lead. Although I know obstacles will come in my way and some will try to discourage me, I will definitely hone in on my strengths in order to become a better, more mature person.
Once again, thank you for allowing me to attend this trip.

Sincerely,
Erika Mauban

Erika Mauban Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan,

Thank you for inviting me to attend the Palm Springs trip. I truly appreciate the opportunity to get to know great leaders and hear their bildungsroman-like life stories, as well as begin to create my own personal journey.
During the past year I have undergone an immense change. I feel as if I am a completely different person. As I am sure you remember, during the 2009 trip, I was somewhat shallow and did not completely comprehend your ways. I now understand that that trip showcased my era of "teenage rebellion" and immaturity. Although I still have my flaws, leadership opportunities offered to me within the past year, especially during the 2010 Palm Springs trip, have taught me to mature.
I remember that a year ago I repeatedly said that regrets are not regrets if something was learned. However, now I understand that it is okay, even mature, to feel regret because then one is aware that he/she was in the wrong. The difference between last year's firepit and this year's "firepit," is like night and day. Last year I felt guarded and insecure, while this year I learned to embrace my emotions and show my true personality.
Furthermore, when we were gathered in the conference room to list our strengths and weaknesses, I felt as if I knew myself better. I learned to channel my strengths to benefit me and minimize my weaknesses. For me, the highlight of the trip was when you told me that I was born with the special strength to lead. Although I know obstacles will come in my way and some will try to discourage me, I will definitely hone in on my strengths in order to become a better, more mature person.
Once again, thank you for allowing me to attend this trip.

Sincerely,
Erika Mauban

Mckay Novak Thank you Letter

Hi Ryan, since this is the new year, a resolution always follows it. My resolution this year is to be more thankful. Because of this, I feel it is absolutely necessary to display my gratitude for all that you and the Foundation do for me. Without the financial help concerning the Academy, Chinese lessons, countless trips, and private lessons, my brother and I could not continue playing tennis at the level that we are. However, the emotional and psychological help you constantly offer are incomparable to anything else. Although I am not the easiest person to deal with, you take my faults in stride and use them to improve my personality and life. I realize that I make your life extremely difficult and protest when you single me out. I am sorry for not comprehending that you simply want to hold me to a higher standard. For this i can never thank you enough! Once again, I am so thankful for your invaluable financial and mental help.

Thanks!
-McKay Novak

Victoire Saperstein Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan,


I just wanted to thank you guys for how much you do for me. I still can't believe that I just got to go on a vacation to a lavish five star hotel. I loved every part of it (even the rain!) It was an empowering trip and I also wanted to add that having all of the alumni come back and share their real college experiences is amazing on itself. The night when we shared our feelings was truly magical (I had never seen Ryan cry before) and you could feel the whole room become that much closer. I see girls that go to Palo and others kids going down the wrong path and I realize I am so fortunate to be in this environment and a big part is because of you both. I want to explain to you guys how I am not taking any of this for granted and every day that I get to step on the tennis court is another day you guys have done some good in life. I know I am sounding redundant at this point but I can't stress enough how the little things mean a lot. Ryan, I know you have a lot of better things to do than standing in a conference room for 3 hours explaining us how to choose to do the right thing. I know you don't have to explain us what foods you should and shouldn't eat, but you still do anyways. I also wanted to thank you on behalf of everyone for the clothes you donated to us. It means a lot to me that you care that much. I am know going to wrap this letter up by saying (again) how thankful I am and if you ever have a bad day, think of all the good you guys do for the foundation everyday.

Yours Truly,
Victoire Saperstein

Sarah Toti Thank you Letter

Dear Ryan,

Thank you so much for inviting me on the Palm Springs trip. I really had a blast, and it was good for me to get away from Vegas for a couple of days. Palm Springs has always been one of my favorite places to visit for tournaments so getting the opportunity to visit with the No Quit Academy was something I couldn't pass up. 

I don't train at the No Quit Academy, but I know the majority of the children through tournaments over the years. Through this trip I really got to see another side of a lot of the kids. Normally I only get to see them on the tennis court or at tournaments but not off the court. I also got to meet many new kids as well, especially the younger ones. Some of the children I got to meet and talk to were Kristen, Chloe, Eli, Anya, and Rema. I also got to see how much these younger kids look up to the alumni; such as Clayton to Trent, Tanner to Dillon, and even more to Patrick and Willie. Even the alumni look to each other such as Patrick to Frideric, and Ed to Trent. To have a positive community such as this is really unique. Honestly, however, I could not relate to many of the stories because I have come from a different background from the majority of the kids (specifically the "seniors"). It was really eye opening for me to see all the different stories shared in Ryan's suite. I never tried to get to know many of the kids on a personal level, and after this trip I feel like I got to experience something special with the entire No Quit Academy, so thank you for that.

If I had to pick someone who demonstrated the most leadership on the trip and in general I'd have to say Hadrien. Hadrien has one of the best attitudes towards life. He has endured tragedy and come out stronger from it. He has every reason to mope around and feel sorry for himself yet he doesn't. I saw him reading every morning in the lobby, and he came out and ran with the group. He has come such a long way, and it's all because of will power. He also was really good with the younger children, making them laugh all the time. Hadrien is a great role model for everyone of all ages. 

Once again, thank you for taking me on the trip. I had a great time. Sorry the email is coming a little late, but I really did love going with you all. I hope you guys had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Sincerely,
Sarah Toti