Ultimate Sports’ 2014 Celtics Experience Changes Lives

By Richard Rhinehart

Boston, Massachusetts, November 13, 2014 – Steven Berube, the program director for Massachusetts’ Ultimate Sports Program, is passionate about athletics that bring together children with disabilities and non-disabled children. Through sponsorship support from World T.E.A.M. Sports and the NBA’s Boston Celtics, the organization’s November 7 Celtics Experience at Boston’s TD Garden helped change lives of more than 70 young players, coaches and cheerleaders.

Group image of the 2014 Celtics Experience.

Participants of the 2014 Celtics Experience from Ultimate Sports Program join together for a group shot. Photograph courtesy Ultimate Sports Program.

Launching Ultimate Sports in 2007, Berube has been intimately involved in creating and successfully managing a variety of sporting events for area special needs children. From sled hockey to rock climbing to water sports to basketball and more, these inclusive events from Ultimate Sports offer enjoyable and memorable experiences for all who are involved.

At the Friday evening Celtics Experience, 28 athletes from grade school to college played together in halftime games in front of an NBA audience on the TD Garden court. An additional eight cheerleaders encouraged the audience to cheer on the competing teams. At the pre-game warm-ups with the Celtics and the Pacers, 35 additional children enjoyed courtside seats.

“The kids seemed to have a fabulous time on the court, and there were quite a few spectators who enjoyed it as well,” said Sarah Bell, World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Director of Advancement, who attended the game. “There was a great moment when one of the refs picked up a small kid to shoot the ball.”

A young child takes a shot at the Celtics Experience.

A referee assists a young child at the 2014 Celtics Experience take a shot. Sarah Bell photograph.

Regularly working with disabled children at events these last eight years, Berube was impressed with the enthusiasm of one athlete at the Experience. Marty, a 21-year-old Special Olympics athlete from Boston, is a fan of basketball and bowling and was invited to join the younger children with disabilities.

“When we arrived on the promenade level before the game, Marty met us getting off the elevator. He immediately pulled me over to his seat and pointed down to the Garden floor, proudly stating ‘I am going to shoot down there, where the Celtics shoot!’” recalled Berube. “His enthusiasm was so over the top, it made all the work put into getting such a large group together worth every second.”

Disabled player Marty defends against a basket.

During the halftime game at the 2014 Celtics Experience in Boston’s TD Garden, Marty (second from left) defends against the opposing team. Photograph courtesy Ultimate Sports Program.

During the Ultimate Sports halftime game, Marty played with the first group. “The point guard on his team found Marty in the lane and he got off his dream shot,” said Berube. “Everyone on both teams held their breath as it hit the back of the hoop and rolled out. We were all sad, but Marty was still in heaven as he got to take a shot at the same basket his favorite team shoots at each game.”

About Ultimate Sports Program
Partnering with Massachusetts’ non-profit organization, The Association for Community Living, Ultimate Sports Program creates sporting programs in football, basketball, sled hockey and many outdoor activities for special needs children and teens age six to 21.

Game action at the Celtics Experience.

Game action during the 2014 Celtics Experience in Boston, sponsored by World T.E.A.M. Sports and the Boston Celtics. Photograph courtesy Ultimate Sports Program.

Ultimate Sports players await the Boston Celtics.

Ultimate Sports Program athletes await the arrival of Celtics players at the 2014 Celtics Experience. Kiya Bodendorf photograph.

Celtics Center-Forward Kelly Olynyk passes through the fan tunnel.

Boston Celtics Center-Forward Kelly Olynyk returns to court through the Ultimate Sports Program’s fan tunnel following halftime. Photograph courtesy Ultimate Sports Program.