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Wheelchair basketball changes perspectives

The game was used to raise awareness for disabilities on campus.

UNC Best Buddies held a wheelchair basketball game in front of Davis Library on Wednesday. Players from the varsity and JV basketball teams participated.

UNC Best Buddies held a wheelchair basketball game in front of Davis Library on Wednesday. Players from the varsity and JV basketball teams participated.

Passing students stared quizzically at the basketball hoop and cluster of wheelchairs surrounding it.

The disability subcommittee of Best Buddies — a group that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities — organized a four-hour pickup wheelchair basketball game to raise awareness about disabilities on campus.

The substitutes for the game included UNC basketball players Kennedy Meeks, Justin Jackson and Sasha Seymore. A crowd gathered, entertained by their attempts to adjust their famous shooting skills to wheelchair play.

“It was difficult. It was the first time I have ever done it of course, but it’s always fun to find out how life is for others,” Meeks said.

Best Buddies President Jack Witty said the event received a lot of attention, and the wheelchairs were never empty.

“We wanted to do something really fun that was very visible on campus and would ultimately raise the standing of people with disabilities here at UNC,” he said.

The Carolina Athletic Association donated a phase one Duke ticket for Saturday’s game as a part of Beat Duke Week. The ticket was awarded to the winner of an around-the-world shooting game.

“They fired off a tweet 10 minutes before they wanted the event to start, and people were literally running to sign up,” Witty said.

Elizabeth Schroeder, Campus Y co-chairwoman of Best Buddies, came up with the idea for the event because, like many UNC students, she loves basketball.

“Especially if we had some basketball players come out and play and show their support for disability rights, we thought that would draw a lot of people in and expose them to ideas they haven’t heard before,” she said.

Tyler Petty, a JV basketball player, played for a while alongside Meeks and Seymore.

“I think it’s a great way to raise awareness — it’s interesting to see people rolling around in wheelchairs outside of a library, especially with Kennedy Meeks,” he said.

Best Buddies has two more major events planned this semester — a talk by motivational speaker Kyle Maynard and Joy Prom, a dance held for community members with disabilities.

“We are having a really incredible month, and it looks like it’s just going to go up from here, so this was a great starting point for us,” Witty said.

Schroeder, who also took a shot at wheelchair basketball, said she feels the event was successful at reaching students and creating conversation.

“I think today just reaffirmed how difficult it is and how impressed I am by people who play it,” she said. “I hope other people who played felt that as well ... it garnered a new respect for paralympic sports.”

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