By Zeke Seuser

SportAbility of Iowa is an organization that provides equipment to people with physical disabilities enjoy an active lifestyle in their local communities. It was co-founded by Beth Ward and Sherri Hildebrand in 2010, both of whom have dedicated a large portion of their lives to enriching the disabled community .

SportAbility of Iowa is the first organization in Iowa that “provides ongoing sports and recreation programs and equipment to help people with physical disabilities enjoy an active lifestyle in their local communities,” Vincen Liddle said. Liddle is the president of SportAbility of Iowa and coach of the Rolling Panthers, a wheelchair basketball team.

On average, each piece of equipment costs $3000, which is not an easy payment for many. SportAbility of Iowa receives funding from donations at fundraising events, sponsorships, grants, and program fees to help families afford the equipment.

The students of Union High School have been asking about a possible third school dance for many years now. Two students involved in the student council last year took to action and after many meetings with administrators, were able to convince them to host a Sadie’s dance in January of 2019. It was originally going to be a dance marathon, because they wanted to fundraise for a local charity. However, in order to call it a dance marathon, the student council must partner with one of the dance marathon organizations and the dance itself has to be a total of six hours. The school handbook rules against this length of time, so the student council decided to call it a Sadie’s Sock Hop and instead donate to a local charity.

Student Council president Holly Wandschneider, and the rest of student council, are working on making this more than just your average dance. With the addition of a dodgeball tournament in either the lower gym or wrestling room, student council members are hoping that the student body really takes advantage of this event and the lives that it could possibly change.

Because every single cent that is fundraised is going to SportAbility of Iowa, the student council is also working extremely hard to raise as much money as possible with a variety of different activities. Some ideas that are in the melting pot currently are running concession stands at home basketball games, hosting bake sales, advisory coin wars, freewill donation pancake breakfast hosted in La Porte City, plus all of the dance activities.

Not only will these activities help support a family that wants to make their child happy, but it will also provide the students of Union High School a good education on the importance of SportAbility of Iowa. To help raise awareness of SportAbility of Iowa, Liddle will come to the physical education classes with basketball wheelchairs and show students what it is like to play adapted sports. A possible basketball game between the Rolling Panthers and the school basketball team is also in the works.

“Many times youth with disabilities are overlooked that they can’t compete in sports. SportAbility of Iowa means inclusion for all abilities to play sports together, disabled or not. The smiles, joy, fun, and excitement each kid has to come to play and be a part of our programs makes a world of difference from them and their families.” Liddle said.