In a friendly round of basketball at Wright State University, William Howard rolled under the hoop and took a shot. The sophomore from Dayton does not require a wheelchair, but every week he joins other students, both able-bodied and those who are disabled, for adapted intramurals.
Those games of basketball, football and capture the flag will soon be open to more students thanks to a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The organization donated $13,000 for Wright State to purchase newer, safer wheelchairs. Christopher Reeve, best known for his role as Superman, was paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown from a horse in 1995 and passed away in 2004.
Wright State expects the Quality of Life Grant to fund the purchase of 10 new wheelchairs, which will be used for sports and educational purposes.
“We’re ecstatic to get this grant,” said Drew Corbett, associate director of campus recreation. “This is a long time coming needing to replace these chairs.”
The wheelchairs will offer a fifth wheel that increases stability and lessens the chance of tipping and associated injuries. Approximately 550 to 650 people are expected to benefit from the new wheelchairs each year, including students and alumni with disabilities, able-bodied students engaging in wheelchair sports with their friends, and local elementary school students who are introduced to the wheelchairs to learn more about the daily challenges for people with disabilities, according to Wright State.
“We are in need of it,” Howard said of the new equipment, which is expected to arrive in July.
Howard said experiencing sports in another way is fun, and senior Heather Lyden, who uses a wheelchair, said she enjoys the chance to get together with friends to play.
“It’s just fun to come and hang out,” Lyden said, “and just get to play sports and be competitive.”
“Even though we’re all different, we just have fun together,” added junior Kyra Rea, who is able-bodied.
Wright State’s Office of Campus Recreation offers one of only a dozen university wheelchair sports programs in the country. With opportunities for both competitive sports and noncompetitive recreation, students and alumni may participate in wheelchair basketball, wheelchair track and field, wheelchair rugby, fitness and conditioning and aquatics, according to the university.
Wright State is ranked as one of the top five universities in the country for accommodating students with disabilities and moving them toward optimal independence in a book, “College Success for Students With Physical Disabilities,” by Chris Wise Tiedemann.
Peter T. Wilderotter, the foundation’s president and CEO, said by supporting organizations, such as Wright State, “that align with the same beliefs as ours, we are better able to help our community members live more independently.”