By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They’ve got enough people in their family to field not just one starting lineup, but two. That’s a line they’ve probably heard before.

Ask Jack Binsfeld what it’s like being in a family with 11 children, and you’ll get the kind of response that would make even the most seasoned politician tip their cap: “It’s pretty interesting.”

At 12, Jack is the youngest in his family. His parents, Neal and Jeanne, adopted him from China when he was 5.

He’s been playing basketball for the last seven years, pretty much ever since he was adopted.

“I get to have fun, and just be with my friends, and be where I want to be,” he said.

He also has spina bifida, and paralysis in one of his legs. Of Neal and Jeanne’s 11 children, eight are adopted, all with disabilities.

“We didn’t go in intending that way. We wanted 1.2 children and we wanted at the end of the day to have a cabin that we could go to on the weekend, but life dealt us some different circumstances,” Neal said. “Jeanne and I were having a difficult time starting a family. Not being a patient person, my wife said, ‘Let’s go adopt and, oh by the way, let’s adopt a child that has a disability. Because there are more needs for that. So that’s kind of how it all started. And the rest is history.”

Four of their children have played adaptive sports, three in basketball and one in track. Their family has been involved with Courage Kenny for more than 20 years. Their oldest, Sarah, competed in the Paralympics in London. Their daughter Sam now coaches.

“My guess is if you looked anywhere around here, you could talk to any parent and they’d say the same things I’m saying: wheelchair basketball has enhanced my child’s life,” Neal said.

For Jack, one of the great parts of being in such a big family is being in a family where so many before him have played.

“I get to learn from them; they can tell me what I can do better, and what I did well. You always like compliments from people,” Jack said.

And the more people, the more compliments.

David McCoy


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