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Wheelchair basketball tournament raises awareness for people with disabilities | Spotlight

The 31st Wheelchair basketball event held at Mechanicsburg Middle School.

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — A disability can come in different forms, it can be visible or not and just because you may have a one, it doesn’t mean you are disabled from doing anything.

The ball is in your court. That’s where we shine our spotlight on bringing awareness while also showing there’s opportunities out there with a wheelchair basketball tournament.

It's the first time back on the court since 2019, after the pandemic put the event on hold the last two years. The 31st Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament returned to Mechanicsburg Middle School.

The event aims to bring awareness and show there’s opportunities for people with disabilities. It is hosted by the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Business Systems Center where U.S. Navy military service members and civilians took on teams from Mechanicsburg Middle School, Mountain View Middle School, and members from the Chairiot Express wheelchair basketball team.

"The DoD has 35 disabilities we recognize and gives an option for people to recognize a disability not on the list and they range everywhere from physical and mental, emotional, and things you wouldn't even think about. So, it's really good to showcase that people with disabilities are just a part of our society. Very inclusive part of our team. Especially in the military in the DoD and without them we can't really accomplish our mission," Navy Captain Gene Cash, commanding officer of NAVSUP BSC told FOX43. 

The event is hosted in Oct. during the 2022 National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

It's also something participants have been looking forward to.

"We practiced last Friday. We still have the worn skin on the hands to prove it. So, thankfully those have healed up a little bit we're ready to go," Capt. Cash said. 

"I'm just excited to at least be a part of it, and bring some enjoyment because over the last three years, there has been a lot to be cheerful about," Shearod Learn, Chairiot Wheelchair Basketball team member said. 

Taking the ability part of it and showing anything is possible.

"There's a lot of individuals that have any type of disability. Not everyone is the same and this is a good way of showing that people with disabilities can do whatever they want," Learn said. 

But, not everyone has played before, so what are some keys to playing?

"It's a little bit confusing. Kind of fast. Stop it whenever you want to turn and you have to move really fast," Alivia Apple, Mechanicsburg 7th grader said. 

"Learn how to turn like 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock to go as fast as possible," David McCylmont, Chairiot Wheelchair Basketball team member and former Edinboro University Wheelchair Basketball team member said. 

The returning champs, the players from the Chairiot. Some have never lost and for Learn, that’s been a few decades. He’s been playing since 1996.

And it would be no different this year. Raising the trophy while being an inspiration to others.

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