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Wheelchair basketball game raises disability awareness

  • Published
  • By Cynthia Griggs
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The base held its 11th annual wheelchair basketball game Oct. 9 at the Warrior Fitness Center where Team Hill leadership faced off against the Ogden Wheelin’ Wildcats, a semi-professional wheelchair basketball team.

Tammy Custer, Hill’s Exceptional Family Member Program Specialist, said the game has become a favorite base and community event that celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which occurs during the month of October.

“The game is all about focusing on abilities rather than disabilities,” Custer said. “When leadership and spectators come out and see how well these players from the Wheelin’ Wildcats perform, they realize people are so much more than their disability.”

Custer also encouraged families with special needs children to attend.

“It instills the importance of striving beyond their disability and working with what they have. They will find they can accomplish amazing things,” she said.

The game is hosted by the Team Hill Special Observance Council in order to recognize the significant contributions employees with disabilities make every day and brings awareness to Hill AFB’s employment and advancement opportunities for those with disabilities.

“Out of the 13,221 employees who work here on Hill, 1,472 of them identify as having a disability,” said Tanesha Schulte, affirmative employment program manager. “That’s an increase of 216 employees from fiscal year 2018.”

Hill participates in recruitment events that specifically serve students, recent graduates and veterans with disabilities said Brittany Hopkins, disability program manager. The Schedule A hiring authority allows people with disabilities to be non-competitively selected for internal and external positions.

“The employment of people with disabilities provides diversity to our workforce and enhanced resiliency,” said Hopkins. “Individuals with disabilities provide new perspectives and strategies, which increases Hill’s effectiveness and quality.”

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month began in 1945 when President Harry S. Truman instituted “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” for the first week in October after the return of service members from World War II sparked public interest for veterans returning with a disability.

In 1989, Congress expanded the week to the whole month of October and changed the name to what it is now.