disability awareness game

SHOOT — During last year’s Disability Awareness Basketball Game, celebrity team member Shelly Wyman puts up a shot. Despite her best efforts, the celebrities lost a tough game to the Bona Vista All Stars.

For twenty years, Bona Vista Programs has been putting on a Disability Awareness Basketball Game during the month of March.

The number of people who have been involved with this event over the years is staggering. Whether they have played as a celebrity or All-Star, performed during one of the breaks, coached either team, volunteered in the concession stand or at the door, refereed the actual game, run the score board, gave the play-by-play, helped set up or tear down or any number of other positions vital to the evening, there are so many lives that have been impacted by this event.

So, who are some of the celebrities gracing the roster this year? Mayor Tyler Moore (City of Kokomo), Jason Braden (Kokomo Fire Department Union Local 396), Jessica Green (Z92.5), Brian Pier (Walgreens), Mark Jansen (Jansen’s Tax Service & Asphalt), Brad Conwell (Expressions Desgin), Jonathan Rogers (WWKI), Michael Kebrdle (Grissom Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram), Jimbo Rayl (State Farm Insurance & also Terhune No. 5 in the movie Hoosiers), Justin Hahn (Maple Crest Middle School), Colie Trawick (IUK Women’s Basketball Coach), Troy Stiner (Eriks Chevrolet), and Shelly Wyman (The Wyman Group). This band of misfits will be coached by Western High School Girls Basketball coaches Lisa Pflueger and Misty Oliver.

If you’ve never been, what you’ll see is a team of local celebrities take on a team of Bona Vista All-Stars in four quarters of intense basketball. Our All-Star team, coached by Carver Center’s Executive Director Donta Rogers and (making his assistant coaching debut) City of Kokomo’s Tom Tolen, is made up of adults we have served or who we currently serve in some way. Some of them play Special Olympics basketball (and could out run or out score me any day of the week). They are good! Some have played for many years. They’ve overcome their “disability” to show people their “ability” instead. They may not see the best. They may not be able to dribble the best. They may not be the fastest player on their team. But they don’t care. They’ve come so far in their lives to show people what they CAN do verses what they CAN’T do.

Now, I’ve been asked in the past if the celebrities practice ahead of time. No. Have any of them ever played basketball in a competitive setting? A couple. Do they take it easy on the All-Stars on purpose? Absolutely not (that’s the sad part, really, since they don’t seem to be able to pull off a win). Are they competitive? 100 percent. Why would they subject themselves to the scrutiny if they aren’t professionals or have any experience? Because they care about this community, our organization, and those we serve.

If you want to see with your own eyes what these All-Stars (and celebrities) can do, we would love to have you come hang out in the stands and watch. The game will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Kokomo’s Memorial Gym on Thursday, March 26. It’s free to get in! We will start with a proclamation by Mayor Moore, the singing of our National Anthem (KHS choir) and then our refs (led by Coca-Cola’s Tim Knowland) will get the game started. In addition to the actual game, in between each quarter we will have entertainment from local dance groups, halftime will feature the award-winning Kokomo Dance Team and a pop-a-shot contest thanks to our friends at Coca-Cola of Kokomo and a concession stand will be open during the entire event

If you know students who would want to come fill up the cheer block, tell them to wear tie-dye! We will be selling our Bona Vista tie-dye T-shirts at the event if you don’t already have one, but wear yours if you do! We would love to show the All-Star team that we are behind them by drawing a huge, supportive crowd. Help us spread the word!