It started pretty quiet as we made our way into the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, OH, around 9am on Sunday, August 20, but we could quickly hear the buzz and energy start to ramp up inside the stadium. Our names are Monty, Matt, and Josh and we are the photographers and videographers who captured the ACEing Autism clinic at the Western & Southern Open. When we were asked to take part in this event, we immediately jumped at the opportunity. Excited to be a part of the event, we knew it would be an amazing time. What we didn’t know was how much we would learn and take back with us from those few hours on court. We wanted to take a moment to share some of the things we’ve learned, what stood out to us, and why it was so important for us to be a part of this event.
What I noticed as I was going around the courts watching all the volunteers and athletes play and laugh, was that there was a sense that something special was happening. The feeling of love for a fellow human being and what that individual was dealing with or might be going through was palpable. The overall atmosphere had a positive, caring, and supportive vibe. Even though we only got to be around the program for a few hours, I felt like I learned quite a bit. I learned that no matter where you are on the spectrum, we all learn in our ways through physical activities. No matter your circumstances, we all learn life lessons by participating in sports. To me it was important to be involved because I felt this was an important cause. I could offer my services and a small piece of my time to something that would give other people joy. It brought smiles to some people who otherwise might not ever have the chance to experience participating in a sport. I also realized that these types of programs allow these children to experience what it is like to be part of a team, have fun, learn, and feel like they belong to something bigger than just their family. It allows them to feel like they have value and belong to a community”. – Monty Milburn, OMS Founder & Photographer
“I also photographed the clinic at the Western & Southern Open. And I have to say that the overall atmosphere during the ACEing Autism event was very exciting. It was amazing to me how invested everyone was in this program. Both the players and the coaches were dialed in and focused during the drill instructions and scrimmaging. Even the parents were very supportive and seemed to be having as much fun as the kids. That definitely stood out to me and made it even more fun to photograph. For me, being part of this event was important because it gives these kids an opportunity to get outside and have some fun. I also think tennis is one of those sports that you can continue to play the rest of your life and is a great form of exercise. So if I can spread that awareness in my own way, then I will gladly do it.” – Matt Milburn, Photography
“I had the opportunity to film the three-hour clinic for ACEing Autism. When I look back on the event, I remember it as a heartwarming experience that showcased the power of inclusion, acceptance, and the incredible potential of children with autism. It reminded me that with the right support and opportunities, these kids can achieve remarkable things. What really stood out was the participants, volunteers, and everyone surrounding this eventful day. I wanted to be a part of this because this organization creates a platform where children with autism can shine and be seen for their abilities rather than their disabilities. It offers a chance for them to develop social connections, enhance their motor skills, and boost their self-esteem. Moreover, it educates the broader community about autism, helping to reduce stigma and increase understanding. I’m grateful to have captured a part of this unforgettable hot summer day of tennis and this incredible event.” – Josh Bray, Videographer & Director
If you would like to learn more about the program, please visit www.aceingautism.com.