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Basketball game raises money and awareness

Evans teen uses wheelchair game for worthy cause

Posted: December 3, 2014 - 12:01am
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Greenbrier basketball player Hannah McIntire tries to pass the ball during a wheelchair basketball game in which Greenbrier and Evans basketball players competed in a fundraiser for Champions Made from Adversity. Photo by Jim Blaylock  Greenbrier basketball player Hannah McIntire tries to pass the ball during a wheelchair basketball game in which Greenbrier and Evans basketball players competed in a fundraiser for Champions Made from Adversity. Photo by Jim Blaylock
Greenbrier basketball player Hannah McIntire tries to pass the ball during a wheelchair basketball game in which Greenbrier and Evans basketball players competed in a fundraiser for Champions Made from Adversity. Photo by Jim Blaylock
Greenbrier basketball player Hannah McIntire tries to pass the ball during a wheelchair basketball game in which Greenbrier and Evans basketball players competed in a fundraiser for Champions Made from Adversity. Photo by Jim Blaylock

Facing a team from Evans High School on Nov. 14, the Augusta Bulldogs looked more like the Harlem Globetrotters, throwing backboard alley-oops, no-look passes and draining 3-pointers.

The Bulldogs led Evans 32-3 at halftime, but ultimately the final score didn’t matter, the wheelchair basketball game was to raise awareness about, and money for, Champions Made From Adversity (CMFA).

The game was a labor of love for Evans High School’s Marlana Ryan, who put the game together for her senior project. She wants to pursue a career in physical therapy and has first-hand experience with military members coming back to the community and the positive effects of CMFA on some of them.

“My uncle had a stroke – he was in the Army – and he had to medically retire,” Ryan said. “He actually started biking with CMFA and that helped his recovery.”

The event, which Ryan began planning at the end of August, was important to Michael Smith, the CMFA chairman.

“I feel honored because young people want to do something for people who have disabilities,” Smith said. “Not many people want to do things with people with disabilities. I feel good about that.”

The Evans team beat a team from Greenbrier to earn a shot at the Bulldogs. Smith knew the Evans team was going to have a different experience in the second game going against players who are familiar with the sport.

“This is very difficult because I think teenagers don’t know how difficult it is to be disabled until they’re in the position and this a fun way to put them in position that would benefit them in the long run,” Smith said.

Evans’ boys varsity basketball player Trevon Cabarrus had experience with his grandmother being in a wheelchair but the Bulldogs still took him a bit by surprise.

“We honestly didn’t know that they were going to run that fast,” Cabarrus said. “We knew what to expect because we’re not as experienced as them in wheelchairs or anything. It was a pretty fun experience to play them.”

During halftime of the final game there was a dance competition and throughout prizes were raffled off. Ryan was able to get sponsorships from local retailers such as Lady Footlocker, Outback, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Wal-Mart, Bi-Lo and Food Lion.

“I had to write letters and call them a lot, but it was worth it in the end,” Ryan said.

The effort Ryan put into the event did not go unnoticed by Evans High School principal Michael Johnson.

“I’m just very impressed of the fact that she would have the awareness to do this for a group for a fundraiser,” Johnson said. “She’s a conscientious student and the work she’s put in getting this organized and paying attention to all the details is just impressive.”

Ryan was pleased by the community support and turnout for the game.

“The best part is just seeing people come out and supporting you and seeing people wanting to give to you when you’re doing something good.”

WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL

Harlem High School senior Matthew King is planning another wheelchair basketball game at the school on Thursday, Jan. 8, beginning at 6 p.m. The CMFA team will be facing off against Harlem teachers and students, and para-Olympian Scott Winkler will be a guest speaker during the game. Admission to the game is a donation, and there will be a silent auction as well.

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