all-star game

SHOOT! — The Bona Vista All-Stars will once again take on local celebrities – like Z92.5’s Jessica Green – in the 20th Annual Disability Awareness Basketball Game at Memorial Gym on Thursday, March 26. The event is free to the public, and all are encouraged to come and cheer on their favorite team.

March will be here before we know it. Can you believe it? The first two months of 2020 are almost in the books? Whew.

At Bona Vista Programs, March is a huge month. Not only does it host one of our biggest events, but it also is essentially the focus behind why we do what we do. It’s Disability Awareness Month! Every year the Indiana Governor’s Council for Disabilities decides on a theme. It’s always inspirational and thought-provoking. This year is no exception, but you may not pick up on it right away. The theme is “See People, Not Punchlines,” and their materials and marketing are so good!

Their goal is to acknowledge an ugly truth and bring it out into the light – persons with disabilities are sometimes turned into objects of ridicule. This year’s campaign uses humor to start a conversation and highlight ways in which we can all understand each other better. For example, one of the #PeopleNotPunchline materials asks, “How does a girl with Down Syndrome shop for clothes? Typically with a basket or cart.” BOOM! (They don’t say boom… I added that for dramatic effect.) It’s so good because they clearly shop just like everyone else.

Did you know there are 54 million Americans with a disability? Adults and children with disabilities represent nearly one-fifth of Indiana’s population. I was stunned. What I’m too often stunned by, though, is the ignorance and naivety that often keep us from connecting with our fellow Hoosiers. Why? Because they seem different than we are?

So, what can you do to help us raise awareness and funds to support people with disabilities? We have restaurant give back days during the month of March (make sure you take our vouchers!)! On March 5, Texas Roadhouse will donate a portion of what you spend back to Bona Vista’s Disability Awareness Month efforts. The other give back days include Hot Box Pizza (March 12), Hacienda (March 18), and Tin Man Brewing (March 20).

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I mentioned the vouchers you need to show in order for us to receive the donated credit. You can get those on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram sites closer to time by e-mailing abrantley@bonavista.org or by stopping by 1220 E. Laguna St. in Kokomo where there will be copies with each receptionist. We can’t pass out copies at the locations on the days of our events, so make sure you have them ahead of time or can pull them up on your mobile phone.

Speaking of the people we serve, our Disability Awareness Basketball Game will be held on Thursday, March 26. This year marks the 20th that we have hosted this event, and it will, once again, be held at Kokomo’s Memorial Gymnasium starting at 5:30 p.m. We will have concessions available, dance/cheer team performances, crowd participation at halftime thanks to our friends at Coca-Cola, and to top it all off, admission to the event is free!

You’ll see local celebrities take on our Bona Vista All Stars in a four-quarter, full-quart game of intense basketball to see if the local celebrities can finally pull off a win. Also, be sure to listen to Z92.5 and WWKI leading up to the event where we will bring members from the teams on to talk about their strategy and why they chose to participate to bring awareness for those with disabilities. Oh, and stay tuned for a future article just on the game coming very soon.

In addition to all of this, if you have a club or school or organization that you think could benefit from a program on Disability Awareness, get with us. Our community education coordinator, Troy Bowers, loves to talk about our persons served and how you can be a better advocate for them and the other 54 million people with disabilities.

So, do you see how much we love March? It’s going to be a busy month, but we are so excited to spend it with you. If you have questions about any of these events or how you can get involved in making a difference in the lives of those we serve, don’t hesitate to contact me directly at 765-457-8273 or abrantley@bonavista.org.