Wil­liam B. Wade Ele­men­tary hosts Uni­fied Char­ity game

Wade ele­men­tary teach­ers put to­gether event for The V foun­da­tion

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

Of­ten in sports, games are all about win­ners and losers. De­spite there be­ing a fi­nal score with the home team win­ning 32-20, ev­ery­one in Wil­liam B. Wade Ele­men­tary School won April 29.

In the Wade Wild­cats’ sec­ond an­nual Uni­fied Bas­ket­ball Char­ity Game, the school do­nated ticket and raf­fle pro­ceeds to the V Foun­da­tion founded by Jim Val­vano, the former North Carolina State Wolf­pack head coach who lost his life to can­cer in 1993.

Steve Baldo, a teacher at Wade Ele­men­tary, put on the event with the help of other fac­ulty mem­bers at the school. Each year, he said, chil­dren with spe­cial needs are able to play in a bas­ket­ball game for a great cause and ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing in front of a crowd at the school.

In this event, Baldo said, the goal is not win­ning and los­ing. The stu­dents who play in the game are not play­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion. They are play­ing for unity, he said.

“Uni­fied bas­ket­ball is de­signed to be in­clu­sive of all stu­dents re­gard­less of bas­ket­ball skill or ex­pe­ri­ence,” Baldo said. “Our goal is to build sports­man­ship, team­work, per­sis­tence and bas­ket­ball skills.”

Gary Davis, a grand­fa­ther of a stu­dent who at­tends Wade Ele­men­tary but did not play in the game, said this event is not only a great op­por­tu­nity for chil­dren with spe­cial needs to have a great ex­pe­ri­ence, but it also helps build a sense of com­mu­nity in the area.

Ev­ery­one from the im­me­di­ate area with a child in­volved in the school comes out to par­tic­i­pate and do­nate, Davis said.

There was not a park­ing space avail­able in the park­ing lot shortly be­fore the event started at 6 p.m. The gym was filled with cit­i­zens who pur­chased tick­ets for en­try.

Just be­fore the game started and the teams were in­tro­duced, Baldo show­cased a video he put to­gether fea­tur­ing stu­dents at­tend­ing Wade Ele­men­tary read­ing off dif­fer­ent parts of Val­vano’s last speech at the ESPN ESPY awards just one year be­fore he lost his life to can­cer.

Val­vano lived his life and never gave up his fight to the very end, Baldo said. And that is why, he said, per­se­ver­ance is a large part of the game be­ing played.

Lit­tle Cae­sar’s Pizza, hot dogs, chips, drinks, Rita’s Ital­ian Ice, and other food items were also sold on the premises.

There was also a si­lent auc­tion Davis said he par­tic­i­pated in with sports mem­o­ra­bilia in­clud­ing a signed Wash­ing­ton Red­skins hel­met from former wide re­ceiver San­tana Moss and a signed New York Knicks hat from rookie power for­ward Kristaps Porzingis.

Af­ter the game, there was an au­to­graph booth ses­sion where the play­ers who par­tic­i­pated in the game were able to sign au­to­graphs for their fam­ily and friends be­fore the event was over.

The game con­sisted of two 12-minute halves and half­time “shenani­gans,” Baldo said, with dif­fer­ent mini-games for stu­dents to par­tic­i­pate in.

Wade ele­men­tary is “one big fam­ily,” Baldo said, and ev­ery­one sup­ports one an­other.

“That’s re­ally im­por­tant to me,” he said.

Com­mu­ni­ties in the area need to have events like this uni­fied game, Davis said. It builds char­ac­ter and com­mu­nity in a way that is “rarely seen” to­day.

“This is some­thing else,” Davis said. “I wish I would have brought my cam­era.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Des­tiny Tucker, right, and coach Tara James run down the court dur­ing Wil­liam B. Wade Ele­men­tary School’s sec­ond an­nual Wild­cat Clas­sic April 29. The uni­fied bas­ket­ball game raised more than $4,000 for The V Foun­da­tion for Can­cer Re­search.

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