Wheelchair Basketball Helps Player Fly

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 22, 2014 | Go to article overview

Wheelchair Basketball Helps Player Fly


"I really think that basketball has not only changed, but saved, Dan's life," says Peggy Dye. According to Peggy, her 16-year-old son Dan is a completely different person after joining a wheelchair basketball team three years ago.

Dan gave the idea of wheelchair basketball a halfhearted reception. But even with the lukewarm enthusiasm mom jumped at the chance to sign him up after they checked out a team practice. Her hope was that it would give him a reason to get out of his room and the opportunity to meet peers who can relate to being a teen with a physical disability.

Dan was born with semi fibular hemimelia, a condition where a child is born with part or all of the fibula missing. He has endured surgeries, leg-lengthening treatments, and time where he used a wheelchair every day. Now with his prosthetic leg Dan is completely mobile. But typical sports are not something in which he was ever able to participate. That is until he found wheelchair basketball.

Now a junior at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Dan is in the middle of his third season with the Windy City Warriors, an adapted sports program of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association. "When I first started basketball I did it because it seemed like the only sport I could physically do. Now it's something I look forward to doing. I enjoy it," Dan says.

Wheelchair basketball is for anyone with permanent lower extremity impairment such as hip, knee or lower body impairments. If you are an amputee, a paraplegic, have cerebral palsy, or a spinal cord injury you may be eligible to play. You do not need to be confined to a wheelchair. Wheelchair sports simply provide a level playing field by eliminating the limitations of the disability.

Peggy's hope of Dan becoming more active and finding peers with similar situations slowly became a reality. His first year was admittedly a tough one. There were struggles within the team. Although Dan met other teens in similar situations with disabilities, he wasn't sure he wanted to continue. But Peggy encouraged him to stick with it.

The next year, Dan immediately clicked with his new coaches and so did the other players. Dan felt more comfortable. He even began to click better with his teammates. There was a real change going on from within the team.

But there were going to be some new expectations placed on the athletes. "One of those expectations was a grade requirement. I wasn't sure Dan would be able to meet it." Peggy tears up as she recalls going to the coaches thinking that her son had finally found something he enjoys and was in jeopardy of losing it because of his grades. …

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