Dollars for scholars

Grand Rapids Pacers to visit Ferris in a benefit for registered students with disabilities

Members of Ferris’ faculty, along with the men’s and women’s basketball teams, will face off Oct. 12 against the Grand Rapids Pacers, a basketball team part of the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association.

The Disabilities Awareness Month Planning Committee, a subcommittee of the Liaison Committee at Ferris, will host the event in Jim Wink Arena in Big Rapids from 6:30-8:30 p.m. There is a $2 entry fee to watch the five on five basketball game, which will be played entirely in wheelchairs with rules similar to college and professional basketball.

“This should be a great event for a great cause,” Chris Richmond, a counselor at Ferris in the personal counseling center and member of the planning committee, said.

All of the proceeds from the event will go toward the FSU Disability Scholarship Fund, a textbook scholarship for students at Ferris who have registered with disabilities services as students with disabilities. Students can apply for the scholarship during the fall semester and will be awarded during the spring.

“[The event] will bring awareness to the Ferris and Big Rapids community that people with mobility impairments may be far more capable than they think,” an educational counselor in Educational Counseling and Disabilities services and member of the Liaison Committee at Ferris, Julie Rudolph, said. “We hope that it will create a more positive view of those with disabilities.”

This marks the second time the Liaison Committee has brought the Pacers to Big Rapids. The Committee brought the Pacers to Big Rapids four years ago and the Michigan Sled Dogs, a sled hockey team also a part of the Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association, to Ewigleben Ice Arena two years ago. Rudolph said no one was injured and the event was entertaining to watch.

“It is a fun event that encourages friendly competition,” Rudolph said. “The audience will get to watch the team scrimmage, which really shows just how skilled these players are.”

Senior forward Daniel Sutherlin plans to attend the event to expand both his character and game one step further. Sutherlin said he has never played basketball in a wheelchair and does not think anyone else on his team has either. He said he will try to learn the basics quickly, though confessed to being a little worried about how he’ll be able to play in the event.

“It would humble me and help me to realize that being able-bodied is nothing to take for granted because everybody isn’t as fortunate,” Sutherlin said.

The Grand Rapids Wheelchair Sports Association has two basketball teams, the Jr. Pacers and Pacers. The Pacers is an adult basketball team. Both teams compete in Michigan and throughout the United States.

The Jr. Pacers’ basketball team is a sports program for full- or part-time wheelchair operators, most who participate have amputations, cerebral palsy or spina bifida, according to Involvement in the program provides potential for college athletic scholarships to the top athletes discovered through college-level wheelchair sports scouts who attend tournaments and camp.