MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The game of basketball is offering a different kind of therapy for military veterans living with a disability.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association hosted a clinic for active and veteran servicemen to help them improve their game.
Robert York is one participant who has always felt the pull towards the basketball court.
“It’s always been my go-to game ever since I was in high school,” York said.
However, over the last 12 years he has had to play the game a little differently.
“I have MS, multiple sclerosis, I was diagnosed in 2004,” York said.
He is taking part in a weekend clinic hosted by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
“It’s been everything I wanted it to be,” York said. “It reminds me of learning how to play when I was in sixth grade, to developing to the different levels and stages of it.”
The clinic offers more than just the chance to hone skills; it also connects participants to an important part of their past.
“I was active-duty Air Force, and then after I did four years active duty I went into the [National] Guard for three years,” York said.
The NWBA is hosting the clinic courtesy of a grant from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The goal is to provide an outlet to veterans and active military members who are learning to live with a physical disability.
“[We want to] give back to our vets for their service and to provide them an opportunity to reintegrate into community,” said Jeff Jones of the NWBA.
Most of York’s teammates share a similar story; former military who are now coping with new challenges. Basketball not only provides an outlet, but also creates a familiar sense of comradery and connection.
“For me, in a lot of ways, the communication level is a lot easier with these guys that have been there, seen it and done it,” York said. “That competitive nature builds back up in me and allows me to be who I remember being, before anything happened to me.”
The clinic runs through Sunday on the University of Minnesota campus.