Two 5-on-5 teams rolled up and down the court in Pearson Hall. Fast passes, labored maneuvering and collapsing wheelchairs dominated the game.
Coinciding with its purpose, Adaptation and Understanding for People with Disabilities – the organization that sponsored the event – soldiered on, overcoming the difficulties and acclimating to the environment.
The AUD Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was held Oct. 28 to raise awareness for the organization.
Temple College Republicans, Temple College Democrats, Temple College Libertarians, Financial Management Association, Phi Sigma Sigma and AUD competed in the tournament. The rules of the game were simple: keep your butt in the chair and the ball on your lap. Senior studio art major Benjamin Tellie from Public Relations Student Society of America refereed.
Junior accounting major Aymon Eid came up with the concept of AUD after his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis three years ago, according to AUD Vice President Jeff Dempsey, a sophomore political science major.
“He had to walk with a cane and he noticed that people looked at him differently,” Dempsey said. “AUD’s purpose is to prove that just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the same things that other people do.”
Senior accounting major and AUD President Sunny Shah said it all grew from a conversation between Shah and Eid.
“We met at a disability center, and he asked me if I knew of an organization like AUD,” Shah said. “There wasn’t one, [but we] liked the idea of starting one like AUD.”
Members penned the constitution in February 2007, and a month later received official approval.
“AUD acts as a group for both the [able-bodied] and disabled community and hopes to be a social network,” Dempsey said. “Our biggest goal [for the event] was to expand memberships for a phenomenal cause.”
Membership is grossly disproportionate to the group’s accomplishments, Dempsey said. Though there are only about 10 extremely active members so far, other organizations have pitched in to help with the cause. Dempsey said Campus Recreation has been especially helpful in planning the event, and that Adapted Recreation donated chairs, the net and scoreboard.
Tribit Green, the adapted recreational coordinator for Campus Recreation, said they’ve been working hard since AUD’s inception to push the organization further along.
“To encourage, help or assist anyone who works with the disabled or is disabled is my mission,” Green said. “AUD brings disability to the forefront. Everyone should be involved. Inclusion is the key word. Students with disabilities should be involved with all facets of campus life.”
Based on the amount of involvement at the event, it seems like other campus organizations agree.
“College Republicans hope to do our part to make this event great,” said junior political science and Temple College Republicans President Ryan McCool. “It’s not about us today. It’s about AUD and raising awareness.”
The other organizations involved shared a similar philosophy.
“We’re here to heighten respect and brighten knowledge,” said sophomore political science major and College Democrat member Sean Goldman. “We’re most definitely working with AUD in the future. They’re an underrepresented minority.”
And though they may be political opponents, College Republicans and College Democrats try to keep it cordial on the court.
“It was convenient that Democrats and Republicans were involved,” said junior criminal justice major and College Libertarians President Ryan Kuchinskas. “We’re friendly rivals. Hopefully we can do this next year.”
However, some did get a little more aggressive.
“Any chance to competitively play the Republicans,” said junior political science major and College Democrats events coordinator Kevin Paris.
After only one game, Goldman realized that maneuvering wheelchairs is a lot more difficult than he had thought.
“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Goldman said. “My arms are killing me and I’ve only played one game.”
In the end, the final round was a battle between the College Democrats and the College Republicans. After a fierce game, the Republicans won 7-2.
“I’m very sad,” Kuchinskas said of the College Libertarians’ sound defeat. “I think we should stick to politics.”
All in all, AUD did what they sought out to do.
“I thought the tournament was great,” Shah said. “I was pleased with the turn out we had. The whole organization did a great job, especially my officers. We got our name out there.”
Kayla Hilliard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org