December 14, 2007

Cuyamaca College marks Disability Awareness 2007 with 10th annual wheelchair basketball game

The wheelchair basketball game that annually pits athletes from Sharp Rehabilitation and elsewhere against Cuyamaca College athletes in a lively demonstration of the skill and agility of the visiting San Diego Xpress team almost didn’t happen this year due to the wildfires in October.

But the popularity of the event, normally held in October to correspond with National Disability Awareness Month, convinced organizers to postpone the game, held this week at the college gym. Wednesday’s game was spirited as ever, with the occasional spill by athletes out of the low-riding competition wheelchairs built for maneuverability and speed.

To mark the game’s 10th year on campus, the Cuyamaca College Disabled Students Programs and Services office collaborated with the athletics and graphics departments, Club ABLED, the Associated Students of Cuyamaca College and the state Department of Rehabilitation to make this year’s contest a little extra special with information and display booths and drawings for an iPod Shuffle (courtesy of the Grossmont Schools Federal Credit Union) and gift certificates for Starbucks, Jamba Juice and Target (courtesy of Club ABLED , a student organization focusing on the abilities of the physically challenged).

Mary Asher-Fitzpatrick, a learning disabilities specialist in Cuyamaca College’s DSPS program, said most of the wheelchair athletes have suffered spinal cord injuries, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing competitively.

“Most of the guys from the team are from Sharp Rehab, but a lot have regular jobs – some are in the military,” she said. “These athletes play in a formal wheelchair basketball league. They have so enjoyed coming to Cuyamaca College to play our athletes because it’s a fun game for everyone and everyone benefits…(Everyone) comes away with a new appreciation for many things.”

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