The Wheelchair Bulls have made working with children with disabilities their primary objective off the court. During the season, the team offers several events where children with disabilities can spend time with the players. In the off-season, kids can attend basketball and other sports camps taught by players on the team. Throughout the year, players are available for personal appearances.
These would include hospital visits, speaking engagements, school visits, etc. The goal of these appearances is to utilize the role-model status the players hold as prominent members of the Chicago sports and disabled communities.
Participating in wheelchair sports has been reported as one of the most rewarding factors in the physical and psychological rehabilitation of many of the Wheelchair Bulls. Several years ago, the Wheelchair Bulls offered the opportunity for disabled children to take part in wheelchair sports by starting a new team called the "Junior Wheelchair Bulls." In 1994, the Wheelchair Bulls, together with their sponsors Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, Wilson Sporting Goods and the special recreation associations of Northeast DuPage, Western DuPage and the Nortwest Suburbs, formed three junior teams for kids from 7 years old who can play through their high school graduation.
The kids are well coached by Jerry Barton and Mike Van Cleve at NEDSRA, Curtis Lease at WDSRA, and Kristen Sneddon of NWSRA, all professionals in rehabilitation athletic programs. The Wheelchair Bulls have received countless favorable letters from the kids' parents on the coaches and their ability to work with the children, teach them basketball, sportsmanship, and camaraderie. For information on the Junior Wheelchair Bulls, call Jerry Barton(630) 620-4500.
Recently, two Wheelchair Bulls, Greg Palumbo and Jim Gallo spoke and put on a presentation for a grade school in one of Chicago's south suburbs. The school was conducting a "Disability Awareness Week" and asked the team to speak to students on the abilities of people with disabilities. Utilizing their position as role models for the disabled community, the players talk to kids about going to college, their careers, their families, and their accomplishments despite having a disability. The players have also visited kids in hospitals and rehabilitation centers upon request. If you would like a member of the Wheelchair Bulls to make an appearance at a school, community event, or healthcare facility, call the Wheelchair Bulls office at .
During the summer and fall, the Wheelchair Bulls will again hold their wheelchair basketball camps for disabled kids. Many of the children who have attended past camps now play for the Junior Wheelchair Bulls. Others just have a great time, enjoy the exercise and look forward to spending time with other children with disabilities. Either way, it's a day the kids always look forward to and we never let them down.
Camps are usually held at Centennial Park in Addison. Additional camps are also sometimes scheduled for downtown Chicago. Camps are usually a half a day and end with lunch with the team.
For more information on the basketball camps, call the Wheelchair Bulls at (847) 593-5485.
Each year, the team hosts an event called "The Windy City Tourney and Day for Kids" where about 50 children with disabilities and their families have lunch together. Afterward, the team takes the kids on the court for an hour of fun. Some of the kids, who are under the age of 7, don't have the strength to even hold a small basketball let alone shoot one. So the Wheelchair Bulls bring in smaller balls and baskets for those kids.
The event is sponsored by , Wilson Sporting Goods, Northeast Dupage Special Recreation Association, and Enesco. The next "Day for Kids" will be held in January. As you can see, "Benny the Bull" is a huge hit with the kids!
I know it might not mean much, but our family wanted to thank everyone for organizing an awesome kid's event this past Saturday. Rob, Rigo, Rob's grandparents and I very much enjoyed the game and the festivities. Please forward our thanks for the bean toss, the Harley pictures, lunch and the countless other sponsors as well. It creates a special memory for us! Thanks for the great game and we look forward to next year. Rob loves sharing with school this experience. Everyone truly shows their team spirit and allows us to forget about the medical for part of the day and have fun.
You truly were so accomodating and for this we are very grateful!!!
Thanks for the wonderful memory!