MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute has offered wheelchair tennis since 2015, but it just received grant money from the U.S. Tennis Association, which will allow them to grow the program.

It means they can add a session in the fall.

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(credit: CBS)

“Yeah, expand. Add more participants, accommodate more people,” Beka Bickel said. “From 2015 until now, there’s been more and more excitement around the sport, so we’ve added more sessions, expanded it to kids and adults.”

Courage Kenny provides the sports wheelchairs, making the game even more accessible to anyone.

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“So if someone’s interested in wheelchair tennis but is like, ‘I don’t have one of those fancy sport wheelchairs,’ we actually are really fortunate enough to be able to loan them out to people as part of the program. So anyone can come out and try it,” Bickel said.

“There’s no limit to the size of the smile. The first time they make contact with the ball, they say, ‘I can play tennis, ‘” Tim Burke said.

Which is really what it’s all about. The love of the game is only possible if you can actually play the game you love.

“I just think, you see the athletes and see the smiles that are out there, I think the biggest reward for me has been those families that have come back and said now we have a family activity,” Bickel said. “Tons of smiles, tons of laughing, tons of growing in the sport and their athletic ability throughout the summer, so to see those gains is to see something special.”

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And to know those gains, those smiles, those laughs can now be multiplied is even better.