Bronco men's basketball shares court, skills with people with disabilities

Contact: Rob Low
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—With its summer practice sessions underway, the Western Michigan University men’s basketball program took a timeout from its normal routine to welcome the Beautiful Lives Project to University Arena this week. 

The Beautiful Lives Project gives people with disabilities the opportunity to actively participate in activities and events that may not have been available to them previously due to physical or facility limitations.

“It was great to have the opportunity to welcome in the Beautiful Lives Project and have our guys interact with all of these individuals today,” Dwayne Stephens, head men's basketball coach, says. “The energy, passion and enthusiasm these folks bring is infectious, and I see it as them giving to us, as much as us giving to them. We are looking forward to continuing to give back to our community with more events like this in the future.” 

On June 15, the Bronco players and coaches worked with the participants using a variety of different drills. The groups rotated through focusing on shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding and defensive skills. 

“It was an awesome experience today being out here with all these individuals and getting to interact with them and hear their stories,” adds Lamar Norman Jr., senior guard. “It was inspiring to be out here with them, and it made me happy to see that they were so happy and having so much fun.”

After finishing the rotation through all the skills, everyone gathered at center court for a big group picture, and the Bronco players led everyone in a rousing rendition of the Western fight song. The players and coaches then stayed afterward to sign a souvenir basketball for each participant.

“I’m grateful to Coach Stephens for the opportunity to have people with disabilities get on the court with his Western Michigan team,” Bryce Weiler, Beautiful Lives co-founder, says. “It is the true mark of a college basketball team to give these opportunities that extend beyond basketball. It was great giving people with disabilities the chance to play basketball, but most importantly making friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Find more information or check out the Beautiful Live Project on Facebook.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.