The Jim Martz Memorial Scholarship Fund at Love Serving Autism
Jan 03, 2024
The first time I met Jim Martz, there was a special quality about him that caught my attention. Even though I played Florida junior and collegiate tennis, it wasn't until my involvement with Love Serving Autism that I truly had the opportunity to spend quality time with him. Back in January 2017, I reached out to Jim, sharing a few photos from our inaugural tennis program in South Florida. His immediate response, offering to publish those photos in Florida Tennis Magazine, spoke volumes about his dedication. He even mentioned his plans to participate in the Dan Marino Walk for Autism, showing his genuine commitment to both the special needs community and the vision of my nonprofit.
Above: Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix CEO & Director of Programs and Clinical Services with Florida Tennis Founder Jim Martz.
As our communications continued over the next year, Jim opened up about his passion for visiting Ohio to spend time with his nephew AJ, who is on the autism spectrum. They both shared a fascination for attending railfanning events, immersing themselves in observing, photographing, and learning about trains and railroads. Jim regularly kept me updated on AJ's milestones, from speaking at his school during Autism Awareness Month to becoming a self-taught guitarist, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Jim was overflowing with excitement about attending AJ's high school graduation ceremony in May 2023.
Our annual rendezvous at the Delray Beach Open, where we hosted the Love Serving Autism adaptive tennis clinic every February, became a tradition we both cherished. Jim adored being on the court with the kids, engaging with families, and showcasing the clinic in Florida Tennis Magazine. His pride in supporting Love Serving Autism and organizations that championed inclusion in tennis and local communities was always notable.
To honor Jim's unwavering commitment to celebrating neurodiversity, we established the Jim Martz Memorial Scholarship Fund at Love Serving Autism. This fund is aimed at providing tennis lessons for youth and adults with autism and developmental challenges, a tribute that truly embodies Jim's values and spirit.
For more information or to contribute to the Jim Martz Memorial Scholarship Fund, please visit:
Written by Lisa Pugliese-LaCroix CEO & Director of Programs and Clinical Services at Love Serving Autism. Lisa is a USPTA and PTR Elite Certified Tennis Professional and an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist in the field of autism. A former collegiate player at Duke University and the University of Florida followed by WTA tournaments, Lisa enjoys combining her tennis experience and speech therapy background to teach the sport to those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In 2021, Lisa was elected by USTA National to co-chair for two years the Adaptive Training and Education Subcommittee to develop an adaptive tennis curriculum. She is the chair of the 2020-2023 USPTA National Adaptive Task Force. Lisa is also the recipient of USTA National’s 2022 Eve Kraft Award for community service.