Adaptive wheelchair basketball taking off

Adaptive wheelchair basketball taking off

MASSILLON - Lisa Followay ends all of her emails with a quote from Thomas Buxton,
"With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance all things are attainable".

WKYC Channel 3 News saw how she is SEEING THE POSSIBLE with an adaptive sports program for extraordinary kids who ARE excelling once given the chance.

On Thursday, #TheGoodStuff story came out of Massillon when the only two interscholastic wheelchair teams in the state played their final game of the season.

But if Followay has HER way, they won’t be the only two teams for long.

The push is on to bring adaptive sports to more districts.

"They are not all wheelchair users. Some come in on their walkers.  Maybe they are ambulatory, maybe an amputee, but the interscholastic adaptive wheelchair teams are open to all physical disability types,” says Followay.

The reality is what the world sees every day.

"Uh I can't walk," 10-year-old Alayna Mendenhall says matter of factly.

But, how she shined in gratitude when she played Thursday as a Massillon Wheelchair Basketball Tiger!

She reflected in this two second perspective check.

"Some disability kids never get to play," said Mendenhall.

Which is exactly why the push is on as Followay tries to bring more adaptive sports teams to more Ohio school districts.

Last year the Wooster Generals pioneered the movement.

This year the Massillon Tigers joined in.

"It makes your heart pump! It’s really active and fun being out here with the guys," says Wooster’s 15-year-old Evan Heller.

"Typically they are sidelined. Schools do their best to try to include them.  The water girl, team photographer or statistician but this get them off the sideline and into the game," said Followay.

"I mean it's kind of an honor to be able to play for a school team," says Wooster’s 12-year-old Ryan Hannan.

Cerebral Palsy takes a back seat when Massillon’s 13-year-old Savannah Kennedy takes her seat here.

"I feel like I am completely and utterly free.  I love being in THIS chair," says Kennedy.

"These wheelchairs are fast!" Mendenhall concurs.

They’re also expensive, $2,000 a chair.

State money from the Department of Education helped kick start these two first Interscholastic Adaptive Wheelchair Basketball teams.

Sounds like money well spent when you hear this from Kennedy.

"I wasn't really confident in myself when I started.  Now I feel like I can do anything."

Supremely confident and adorable Heller smiles and laughs when he confirms the rumors that he’s a pretty good shooter are true.

“Yeah. I am. And Yeah! Very confident. Yeah!  I'm going to put on a show. Hopefully we get a W,” says Heller.

"I guess if you just try hard enough you can do anything," Kennedy says from experience.

Anything less than 100 percent of what you've got to give, according to Savannah Kennedy, is almost un-American.

"CAN'T isn’t a word that should be in the English vocabulary," she says.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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