Hill Air Force Base, Utah – The base’s annual wheelchair basketball game took place Oct. 3 and has become a fun way to not only showcase the skills of wheelchair athletes, but also to celebrate disability awareness month.
Held at the Warrior Fitness Center, leadership from units across the base faced off against a semi-professional wheelchair basketball team, the Ogden Wheelin’ Wildcats.
Tammy Custer, an Exceptional Family Member Program specialist who supports more than 550 special needs families at the base, explained why the game is important for participants and spectators alike.
“It’s all about focusing on abilities rather than disabilities. When leadership and spectators come out and see how well these players from the Wheelin’ Wildcats perform, they realize people are so much more than their disability,” Custer said.
One of the longstanding objectives of the game has been to increase employment and advancement opportunities for those with disabilities through awareness.
“Hill Air Force Base employs more than 11,500 civilian employees. Of those, 1,011 employees have self-identified of having some type of disability,” said Tanesha Schulte, affirmative employment program manager at the base.
“She said hiring individuals with disabilities furthers several goals, in that every federal agency strives to be diverse, inclusive and provide equal opportunity to all,” Schulte continued.
Custer said she encouraged the base’s families with special needs to come out to the game as well.
“First, the event helps to remind the family that their special need member can do so much more than they imagined,” she said, “Second, it also gives the special needs family member a chance to realize, they too, can strive beyond their disability, work with what they have, and accomplish amazing things.”
The Ogden Wheelin’ Wildcats is made up of players with a wide range of physical disabilities, some who have been playing together for more than a decade.
The game was put on by the Team Hill Diversity Council National Disability Month Committee.