Wheelchair basketball event raises awareness about developmental disabilities


Jesten Richardson

Members of Marshall University Greek Life participate in Wheelchair Basketball, an awareness event for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Friday in the Marshall Recreation Center.

To spread awareness during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Marshall University’s Office of Disability Services and the Marshall Recreation Center organized a Wheelchair Basketball event Friday in the Rec Center.

The event allowed able-bodied Marshall staff and students to try to play basketball in teams while sitting in wheelchairs that were provided by WeCare Medical, said Stephanie Ballou, Marshall’s director of Disability Services and an organizer of the event.

Wheelchair Basketball was made up of two games, the first involving two teams from Greek Life and the second involving a team of staff from Student Affairs and Student Support Services versus a team of students from the Student Government Association, Ballou said.

The event’s organizers sought to bring awareness to Marshall’s campus, faculty, staff and students that people sometimes might take for granted the abilities they have and to show that, though playing basketball as an “able-bodied” person may be an “easy task to perform,” some tasks can be more difficult for individuals with disabilities, Ballou said.

Marshall has many students on its campus that are either in wheelchairs or have some type of physical disability, Ballou said.

“I just think that the students need to recognize that we do have the individuals on campus, faculty as well as students, who may need assistance from time to time, and I feel that it’s importance for us to be aware of the challenges that these individuals may have,” Ballou said.

Ballou said she heard some comments before the event’s participants even got started of how much different it is to have to sit in a wheelchair and use your upper body strength, compared to an able-bodied student using their legs more. It is just a challenge of different parts of your body that you have to use to be mobile, Ballou said.

Cameron Molina, a junior sport management major, member of the fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi and Marshall Men’s Basketball student manager, was a referee for the event.

Through the event, Molina said he was able to get active in the community, to get hours for community service and to learn more about the program that ran the event, the Office of Disability Services.

“It was a good time, I think, to raise awareness a little bit about, just playing sports for people with disabilities is tough, it’s challenging,” Molina said. “So, I think it teaches us not to take life for granted and appreciate what we have.”

In addition to brining awareness, Wheelchair Basketball is an event to bring all sorts of people together and to get people active also, Molina said. He said he would love to do it again in the future.

“This is something that we’re going to try to make an annual event,” Ballou said. “Last year, we only had one game, with just Greek Life, and we want to try to build on it each year. And we’d eventually like to make it an all-day event and have different organizations competing with one another and maybe even bring in some outside teams just to bring awareness for our campus and our community.”

The teams were too mixed to have a clear winner in the Greek Life game this year, Ballou said, but Marshall staff members were the winners of the second game.

Jesten Richardson can be contacted at [email protected].