You can accomplish anything you put your mind to and that’s what several basketball players proved on the court Wednesday as they dunked for charity, but what the players didn’t have is what made their message even stronger.
Former basketball players from Baldwin Wallace University hit the court against AMP1, an entire basketball team of amputees.
Robert Rodriguez, an AMP1 teammate, explained his disability, telling NewsChannel5, “I'm a ‘BK’ which means below the knee and um, when I was born I had two toes, I was missing some muscles and some ligaments so my parents had to decide to either put me in a wheel chair or have my leg amputated.”
Tyler Hyatt, co-owner of the team told NewsChannel5 he lost his leg at a young age. “When I was four years old I was ran over by a garbage truck …” said Hyatt.
The other team co-owner, Scott Odom said he lost his leg at age 14 due to cancer. “The whole reason we want to do this is to let other people know just because you lost a leg, it's not the end of your life,” said Odom.
Together with the help of the group, Youth Challenge and Baldwin Wallace University, the team spent the entire day sharing their love of sports and their strength to overcome adversity all day.
Wednesday began with practice at the Lou Higgins Center at Baldwin Wallace, a school assembly at St. Angela’s School in Fairview Park and a visit to the Youth Challenge clinic in Westlake and then to Berea where they played the final game.
There to cheer the teams on were those same Youth Challenge members the amputees visited before. Youth Challenge is a group that brings together children with physical disabilities and youth volunteers. Proceeds from the game went to the organization.
Baldwin Wallace University’s staff and students were also instrumental in getting AMP1 to the university. Megan Frisina, a Sports Management major and basketball player Wednesday night said, “… just because you’re not an abled-body athlete doesn’t mean you can’t have a love and passion for the game and I think it’s just really cool to bring wheelchair and amputee-athletes and able-bodied athletes together in one night to just kind-of get the word out.”
For AMP1, it is just the beginning. The team recently formed only recently an now they’re traveling the country to play and bring about disability awareness.
“You know we love to play basketball but um, it's really more about the message: never give up … and just to show people they can overcome anything if you work hard at it and be persistent and just push yourself as far as you can go,” said Rodriguez.
“We can be athletes and so by playing against abled-bodied people and hopefully winning, it'll prove to them that we compete with them and take us serious,” said Hyatt.
Little did AMP1 players know, they already inspired someone, a Freshman at Baldwin Wallace University who volunteered to sing the National Anthem in public for the first time … not to mention, she is both deaf and hard of hearing!
“People with disability can really do anything, really. So that’s what I’m here to prove as well,” said Ifedimma Nwankwr.
For more information on AMP1 and Youth Challenge visit here:
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