Students experience life in wheelchairs to raise money for wheelchair basketball team

Wheelchair basketball player Marshall Lindsay: “It’s not just a fundraiser, it’s raising awareness as well.”

Alli Grant was determined as she wheeled her chair toward the basketball hoop. She doesn’t use a wheelchair, but she was shooting hoops in one during the Wheelchair Relay on March 3. When she shot the ball, it hit the rim.

“You have a good handle on the chair — just keep your wheels pointed towards the net,” said Sidney Attiogbe, a player on MU’s wheelchair basketball team and Grant’s self-appointed coach. “She’s my best student yet!”

“It’s really eye-opening,” said Grant, an occupational therapy student. “It’s harder to get around than you think.”

Attiogbe coached her on wheelchair basketball techniques at the relay, in which dozens of participants navigated a variety of challenges while operating wheelchairs.

The event, which took place at the Student Recreation Complex, was sponsored by Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball, the Disability Center, RecSports, the Student Occupational Therapy Organization and the MU student Physical Therapy Organization. The relay raised money for the wheelchair basketball scholarship fund.

Attiogbe, a freshman, came from France to play for MU’s wheelchair basketball team.

“I think the sport can grow,” he said. “It’s very nice to see people getting involved and taking their free time to be here.”

In addition to shooting baskets, the event featured a wheelchair relay, a modified volleyball game, obstacle courses and other wheelchair-related activities. In one game, called “Roll With It,” participants raced across the court while holding miscellaneous items in their lap and operating a wheelchair.

“It’s not just a fundraiser,” wheelchair basketball player Marshall Lindsay said. “It’s raising awareness as well.”

Lindsay, who has been playing wheelchair basketball for seven years, chose to attend MU largely due to its wheelchair basketball program.

In addition to the wheelchair events, volunteers helped raise awareness for other challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Physical therapy students Tyler Davis, Jill Lucas and Erica Eagleburger ran a “sign language Jeopardy” game, in which participants won points for learning phrases in sign language.

“Having people understand what it’s like to have an impairment is important,” Eagleburger said. “People will have a good time, but they’ll get out of their chairs at the end of the night. It’s a learning experience, but it’s important to realize that this is people’s lives.”

Edited by Madi McVan | mmcvan@themaneater.com

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