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Wheelchair Basketball Games Raise Money, Awareness at Lancaster Middle School

Two students go for a jump ball to start a wheelchair basketball game at Lancaster Middle School.

Students enter the court to take part in a wheelchair basketball game.

Students at Lancaster Middle School raised money for a local wheelchair basketball team as they and their teachers were able to play the sport for the first time. 

“We talk about athletes supporting athletes, and this is a good way to see that no matter what your abilities are, athletes want to be athletes,” said Becky Edwards, a physical education teacher who helped organize the game. “We’re here to support everybody.”

The inaugural fundraiser came about as Edwards spoke with teacher aide Elizabeth Keicher, whose daughter Emily plays on the Buffalo Rims wheelchair basketball team, which she founded with her husband Chris. Talking about the cost of the chairs used in game play, Edwards proposed the idea of a game to support the team and raise student awareness that people of all abilities can play and enjoy the game.

Tickets were sold to students and staff to attend the series of games on June 7, and the afternoon event drew a raucous response from the students, who watched their teachers play and were randomly picked to get in for games themselves. The game features teams of players with and without physical disabilities, with each player seated in a wheelchair during gameplay.

“They can see that people with disabilities can play sports and have fun, and with the right equipment, everybody can play,” Elizabeth Keicher said. 

Though wheelchair basketball has many overlaps with a traditional game, among the differences is that players are only allowed to push their wheels twice before they are obligated to shoot, pass, or dribble. Players must also remain firmly seated in their chair during play. 

“It’s a whole workout,” said Collin Frey, a robotics teacher at the school. “I’m awful at basketball, but I had so much fun.”

Emily Keicher, an eighth grader at Lancaster Middle School who was born with spina bifida, first started playing wheelchair basketball after competing in sports like adaptive track and sled hockey. She said she was happy that her classmates were able to play the sport during the event.

“Everybody’s having so much fun and I love seeing the smiles on their faces,” she said.

Lancaster Middle School teacher aide Elizabeth Keicher stands with her daughter Emily, an eighth grader at the school.

Collin Frey, a robotics teacher at Lancaster Middle School, takes a shot against fellow faculty member Jeremy Lynch.

Teacher aide and track and field coach Christopher Dabney celebrates making a basket.

A basketball heads towards the hoop during a wheelchair basketball game.