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Salute to Service: Tennis for wounded warriors

PRINCE GEORGE’S Co., Md. (WUSA9) -- A Prince George’s County woman is helping injured veterans in a unique way.

Former tennis champion Brenda Gilmore of Largo understands some of their challenges firsthand.

Who better to inspire wounded warriors than Brenda Gilmore.

After being paralyzed in a car accident at the age of 27, tennis changed her life.

“It built my self-esteem and confidence so much,” Gilmore said. “And it became like an icebreaker.”

Gilmore went on to become a nationally ranked wheelchair tennis champion. Now, she wants to inspire injured veterans.

“Wounded warriors have given so much to my freedom in the United States, it’s the least that I could possibly do,” she said.

Blanca Davila-Pabon started playing tennis in her native Puerto Rico at the age of five. During her deployment to Iraq, she was shot and suffered traumatic brain injury or TBI.

“Because of TBI, there’s a lot of things I cannot remember. My memories are gone,” Davila-Pabon said.

She had to relearn the game, through tears and frustration.

“Now I can hit the ball like before. So for me, it’s like part of my life back,” Davila-Pabon said.

Orlando Hollis is a former boxing champion, who won the National Golden Gloves title. Tennis is his new challenge.

“That’s what it is. The competitive side of me. I always feel like I’m the champ. Whatever I do,” Hollis said.

In the end, the game of tennis is secondary. Restoring confidence and a sense of community comes first.

If you’d like to learn more about Brenda and the great work she does in our community, we’ve posted a link to her tennis foundation on our WUSA9 news app. (http://pgtef.org/site/)

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