William B. Wade Elementary hosts Unified Charity game
Wade elementary teachers put together event for The V foundation
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.”
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.