NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — College basketball practice is underway at Illinois State and first-year coach Ryan Pedon is hoping to make an impact on his new team.
And not just in the win column.
“A big part of our program and the vision we have for the program is impacting the community,” Pedon said. “Not only that but be leaders in our community and teach our young guys how to really impact those around them.”
So Pedon and his players partnered with the ‘Beautiful Lives Project,’ where people with disabilities live out their dreams through sports and other projects. The players held a one-day clinic for their new friends a few weeks ago at Redbird Arena.
“These kids don’t get this opportunity a lot,” said ISU senior Seneca Knight. “Being able to make their day, makes our day. Basketball is a small part of our lives when you think about making an impact on lives. It’s huge.”
The Redbirds helped their guests with special needs through shooting drills, lay-up lines and posed for a team photo with them.
“Basketball brings a lot of people together. Interacting with them, I probably enjoyed it more than them,” said ISU senior Kendall Lewis. “It’s about bringing the community together.”
The Redbirds aren’t exactly sure when they’ll put on another clinic like this one. But the team says it’s already planning on hosting one again.
“Knowing we did impact these young people and their families, that hits home with us,” said Pedon. “And makes it beneficial for all of us.”