UroMed’s David Williams Wins 4th Straight US Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament

On October 1st, UroMed’s own David Williams competed in and WON the Men’s Wheelchair Division A Singles tournament at the 2012 US OPEN USTA Wheelchair Championships in St. Louis. This is David’s 4th consecutive national championship win. Congrats David!

David fully believes in the I-Can Attitude!

David fully believes in the I-Can Attitude!

David contracted Transverse Myelitis when he was 14 and has been in a wheelchair since. He originally had aspirations of playing wheelchair basketball and played that sport for several years. At the age of 17, he started playing tennis and hasn’t stopped since. UroMed featured David as a Hometown Hero last year. Click here to read his story.

See David talk about his life-changing experiences with Transverse Myelitis and wheelchair tennis in this interview filmed by 11Alive NBC News here in Atlanta:

About The USTA

The USTA’s mission is To Promote and Develop the Growth of Tennis.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the national governing body for the sport of tennis and the recognized leader in promoting and developing the sport’s growth on every level in the United States, from local communities to the crown jewel of the professional game, the US Open.

David plays with and against some of the best wheelchair tennis competitors in the nation.

David plays with and against some of the best wheelchair tennis competitors in the nation.

Established in 1881, the USTA is a progressive and diverse not-for-profit organization whose volunteers, professional staff, and financial resources support the singular mission.

The USTA is the largest tennis organization in the world, with 17 geographical sections, more than 750,000 individual members and 7,000 organizational members, thousands of volunteers, and a professional staff dedicated to growing the game.

The USTA: Making Tennis Make A Difference!

About Transverse Myelitis

Transverse myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation across both sides of one level, or segment, of the spinal cord. The term myelitis refers to inflammation of the spinal cord; transverse simply describes the position of the inflammation, that is, across the width of the spinal cord. Attacks of inflammation can damage or destroy myelin, the fatty insulating substance that covers nerve cell fibers. This damage causes nervous system scars that interrupt communications between the nerves in the spinal cord and the rest of the body.

Symptoms of transverse myelitis include a loss of spinal cord function over several hours to several weeks. What usually begins as a sudden onset of lower back pain, muscle weakness, or abnormal sensations in the toes and feet can rapidly progress to more severe symptoms, including paralysis, urinary retention, and loss of bowel control. Although some patients recover from transverse myelitis with minor or no residual problems, others suffer permanent impairments that affect their ability to perform ordinary tasks of daily living. Most patients will have only one episode of transverse myelitis; a small percentage may have a recurrence.

The segment of the spinal cord at which the damage occurs determines which parts of the body are affected. Nerves in the cervical (neck) region control signals to the neck, arms, hands, and muscles of breathing (the diaphragm). Nerves in the thoracic (upper back) region relay signals to the torso and some parts of the arms. Nerves at the lumbar (mid-back) level control signals to the hips and legs. Finally, sacral nerves, located within the lowest segment of the spinal cord, relay signals to the groin, toes, and some parts of the legs. Damage at one segment will affect function at that segment and segments below it. In patients with transverse myelitis, demyelination usually occurs at the thoracic level, causing problems with leg movement and bowel and bladder control, which require signals from the lower segments of the spinal cord.

Transverse myelitis occurs in adults and children, in both genders, and in all races. No familial predisposition is apparent. A peak in incidence rates (the number of new cases per year) appears to occur between 10 and 19 years and 30 and 39 years. Although only a few studies have examined incidence rates, it is estimated that about 1,400 new cases of transverse myelitis are diagnosed each year in the United States, and approximately 33,000 Americans have some type of disability resulting from the disorder.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

UroMed Community Giving

David Williams was sponsored by UroMed to attend this tennis tournament. UroMed is honored to support numerous charities and sports programs nationwide in the communities that we serve.

The company focuses its community efforts on three primary areas:

  • Condition-related associations that focus on education, awareness and support
  • Sports programs for the disabled
  • Leadership and motivational programs for disabled youth

Additionally, many of our employees volunteer their time and efforts at various community events. Many of our employees have a personal connection to the following non-profit organizations, as 20% of our customer care associates either has a disability or has a family member with a disabling condition.

Please contact us if you would like to invite UroMed to sponsor your organization or event.

Harlon Matthews Says Don’t Fight Your Disability, Use It To Your Advantage

Editor’s Note: Today, Harlon Matthews is a therapeutic recreational specialist, coordinates the wheelchair sports for Henry County Parks and Recreation and is a certified tennis instructor. He not only teaches wheelchair tennis but also private lessons to junior tennis players. He’s a tennis tournament director, he’s the chairperson for the USTA Georgia Wheelchair Committeeand serves on the USTA Southern Wheelchair Committee and the USTA National Wheelchair Committee. Part 5 of a 5 part series.

Tennis has opened several doors for Matthews.

Tennis has opened several doors for Matthews.

Matthews says, “Tennis is the one sport that opened several doors for me, and I’m in awe of what wheelchair tennis is doing for others. I’m happy to help everyone–able bodied and those in wheelchairs–succeed in tennis. This is my calling in life. USTA Georgia now calculates points for wheelchair players, just like they do for those who are able bodied. This process is new because there weren’t enough wheelchair tennis players to create a need for a point system. USTA contacted me about calculating points for rankings, but the number of players in Georgia has risen significantly. A committee was formed, and we created four tournaments for wheelchair tennis players.”

USTA was very supportive about the rising number of wheelchair players and tournaments. Photo source

USTA was very supportive about the rising number of wheelchair players and tournaments. Photo source

The Atlanta Open took place May 8, 2012, the Geranium Festival Tournament that I direct, is June 1-3, and the Augusta Tournament is the middle of June. The players accumulate state and national points. Then, the top players from each division earn an invitation to the Grand Prix Championship from October 26-28, 2012 at the Peachtree City Tennis Center. This tennis competition won’t be limited to just Georgia wheelchair tennis players, and we have other states talking to us about sending their top players in each division to the championships in October. We have good support from USTA National, USTA Southern and USTA Georgia for these events, as well as many local sponsors. We want this to become a huge event.”

Matthews hopes to always support those in and out of wheelchairs and to provide fun sports camps for everyone. Matthews believes that if he does this, his life will go where it’s supposed to go. He’s very humbled, pleased and thrilled with what’s happened in his life so far, and he says, “I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in the future. At the beginning of my disability, all I could do was ask, ‘Why me?’ But, once I opened my eyes and heart and learned to be patient – as hard as that was – eventually, I learned the reason why my life was the way it was. I learned that whether you’re pushing to get around, walking or crawling, there’s a purpose to be found. One day, if you keep searching, you’ll learn what that purpose is.”

The best advice Matthews can give anyone is, “Don’t fight your disability. Find what the purpose of that disability is. I believe the reason for my successful life is because I’ve accepted who I am. When I did that, I understood everything about my life and its purpose. I believe that life is all about taking all your experiences and using them for a reason. People go through hardships for a reason. Going through those bad experiences is terrible, but what you do with that experience is the important part. Perhaps you needed to go through that bad experience to minister to other people. Maybe you can help someone who’s going though that same type of experience. You get to make the choice of whether you let a bad experience or a disability beat you up the rest of your life, or you use that experience to help other people.”

Matthews found his calling in life. Here he is with some amazing players, one being Pete Sampras, the king of swing!

Matthews found his calling in life. Here he is with some amazing players, one being Pete Sampras, the king of swing!

For more information, please visit www.ustageorgia.com/wheelchair/index.htm and the USTA Georgia Facebook page that has a wheelchair section. If you have any questions, contact Harlon Matthews at hmatthews@co.henry.ga.us.

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com