Making a More Inclusive Community Through Wheelchair Basketball

By Heather Hansen | December 13, 2023
Wheelin Wildcats and Logan Fire department teams
Ogden Wheelin Wildcats and Logan Fire Department Basketball Teams

A recent wheelchair basketball game turned into an unexpected fundraiser as members of the Utah community came together. 

To involve the community in inclusiveness and adaptation, the Common Ground Outdoor Adventures  organization collaborated with the Ogden Wheelin Wildcats and the Logan Fire Department to host a wheelchair basketball tournament. 

This event was intended, at first, to bring the community, including people in wheelchairs, together. During the event, however, a member of the community asked if they could provide a donation to the organizations. Anna Turner, a member of the Institute for Disability's Public & School Partnership and an organizer of the event, said it was then that an idea used by the Franklin County Medical Center was incorporated. "We did this idea that we called 'bribe the ref' and the idea was that for every dollar someone donated, they could choose a team to put points on for that money, so $1 per point. So if [our team] was losing, somebody could donate $20 and they would get 20 points on the board."

This last-minute fundraiser, created by community members who came to watch the game, raised over $800. Once word got out, people started donating food items as well in support of the teams and organizations. 

Donors got to request which organizations they wanted their contributions to go towards, but those left unspecified went towards Common Ground Outdoor Adventures (CGOA). CGOA is an organization that lends out outdoor recreational equipment for free. Anyone from the community can come and borrow any equipment at no charge. Most of their adaptive equipment is designed for people with disabilties, but the majority of Common Ground's equipment can be used by nearly anyone. Donations from the wheelchair basketball event went towards their programs, equipment, repairs, staff, and building repairs. 

The CGOA's message, along with the Wheelin Wildcats and the Logan Fire Department, can be reflected in a statement by Anna Turner. "Even though we consider ourselves a community, sometimes we unintentionally exclude individuals because they are different. ... Even though there are differences, we're all people and individuals that have wants and desires, somebody who has dreams and wants to accomplish things in their life, even if that might look different than you or I might think." 

At the moment, CGOA hopes to host another wheelchair basketball tournament in April or May of 2024, and they are looking for members of the community to play against the Ogden Wheelin Wildcats. More information will be coming soon, but if you are interested in playing or donating to the organization, please contact SaQuoyah Boxx at Common Ground.

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