BY RICHARD RHINEHART
Boston, Massachusetts, January 30, 2012 – On February 5, 2012, 24 excited children will venture onto the fabled parquet floor of Boston’s TD Garden to play a special basketball game. Sponsored by the National Basketball Association’s Boston Celtics and World T.E.A.M. Sports, the Celtics Experience features disabled and able bodied children playing basketball during the Celtics – Memphis Grizzlies halftime.
The fifth annual Celtics Experience from Massachusetts’s Ultimate Sports Program, the non-profit organization’s President Steve Berube reports the event greatly helps both disabled and able bodied children. “We are all different and our program quickly makes kids realize that those differences do not have to get in the way of enjoying each other’s company,” said Berube.
Having partnered with Ultimate Sports Program in creating inclusive sled hockey events with the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League, World T.E.A.M. Sports is working closely with Berube and his Boston area staff in managing the Celtics Experience. Providing jerseys and game tickets for the participating children, World T.E.A.M. Sports looks to special events such as the Celtics Experience as an opportunity to create and promote sporting events that bring together participants with and without disabilities. Berube notes that in addition to the children who will participate in the halftime games, another 62 Ultimate Sports Program members will attend the Celtics game and watch from the stands.
Following the halftime game, the Celtics Experience participants will create a fan tunnel for the Celtics players to return to the court for the second half.
Berube notes that Ultimate Sports Program member Nick Underwood has been honored by the Celtics to sing the national anthem for the NBA game. Underwood also sang the anthem for last year’s Celtics Experience game. “Many people we met from the Celtics thought Nick was the best young singer they had heard sing before a game,” said Berube.
A part of Massachusetts’s Association for Community Living, Ultimate Sports Program teaches children that diversity is to be celebrated. “We work hard to try to give children with disabilities a brighter future,” said Berube. “By making them aware of all the things they can accomplish today, we’re always thinking of new things to do to keep them active.”
Ultimate Sports Program is open to all youth in western Massachusetts, regardless of ability or disability. The organization offers free youth sports programs ranging from sled hockey to baseball and dance. It is dedicated to creating opportunities, improving lives and building relationships.
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a national sports event management organization, founded in 1993 and managing inclusive events for disabled and able bodied participants. Headquartered in Holbrook, New York, the non-profit creates such events as the annual Washington to Gettysburg Face of America bicycle ride honoring America’s veterans, this summer’s Sea to Shining Sea cross-country ride for wounded warriors, a multisport multi-team challenge in Colorado and a series of mountaineering and outdoor expeditions for wounded warriors, including this February’s Snowbird, Utah winter snow sports Soldiers to the Summit event. World T.E.A.M. Sports also sponsors challenging events for young disabled athletes, including last year’s Adventure Teen Challenge and Soccer Teen Challenge in Washington.