Wheelin’ for charity

Circle of Friends holds Mound Showdown fundraiser

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The school’s Circle of Friends group went head-to-head with their Flower Mound High School counterparts in a “Battle of the Mound” wheelchair basketball game on Oct. 17.

The Marauders won the game 32-31 thanks to a major second half comeback against the Jaguars. However, the real victory was the money that was raised to fund the Grand Ball for both schools. In total, the event raised over $10,000, which will be divided between the special education programs.

Assistant Principal Kyle Smith was surprised with the crowd turnout at the game, which he estimated to be around 4,000 people.

“I think it was the loudest game I’ve ever participated in,” Smith said. “It’s exciting that what we’re doing is going to benefit those kids.”

The Grand Ball is a prom celebration held at the end of the year for the Circle of Friends program. The students dress up, are driven around in a limo and taken to a venue where they dance the night away. Since the Grand Ball is expensive, Circle of Friends decided to raise the money themselves, rather than put the cost on the parents. Special Education teacher Anna Marie Schlichter was pleased the student body rallied around the game and offered donations to fund the event for both schools.

“Grand Ball is important because every boy and girl deserves to feel like a king or queen one night of their life,” Schlichter said.

Former LISD board member Carol Kyer proposed the idea to use the game as a platform to raise money for each schools’ Circle of Friends program.

“We want to spread the kindness and let these kids know that they’re acknowledged and that people see them, and they’re not just something invisible that nobody wants to talk to,” Kyer said.

Kyer works for RISE adaptive sports program, which provides physically diasbled children a chance to compete in sports leagues such as wheelchair basketball. The program encourages kids to be active even though they have a disability. RISE is a nonprofit organization that relies on private funding and grants so that money isn’t a barrier.

“Everybody needs to feel part of a community,” Kyer said. “They need to feel that there is somebody out there thinking of them. If we can just show the kids we’re here for them, that’d be awesome.”

During her years on the schoolboard, Kyer talked with her neighbor, a teacher at Flower Mound, about how difficult it was to raise funds for Circle of Friends throughout the district. They originally organized golf tournaments to raise funds, but they were never a huge hit with the community. After retiring from her job with the district and joining RISE, Kyer thought that embracing the disablities of students in a fundraiser would rally the community – and it did, with an estimated 4,000 students and parents at the game.

“That challenge between the two schools to see which one is better is great,” Kyer said. “But at the same time it helps Circle of Friends, and it shows people the day-to-day struggles of being in a wheelchair.”

In addition to fundraising, the game offered a chance for students and staff to understand some of the challenges that people with disabilities face.

Kyer wants to educate the community about these difficulties, and also increase support and awareness of people with disabilities.

“We want to get people to the place where they don’t see the disability, they see the person,” Kyer said. “And I think this game will help a lot.”

The basketball game is forecast to be an annual event, scheduled around the same time as the Mound Showdown each year. The money raised will be enough to fund the grand ball for both schools, with a little extra funding going towards RISE.

“It’s important just to get the word out and for us to come together as a community for our special needs friends,” Special Education teacher Darin Heare said. “They’re a part of us, and they can do as much as we can. We just have to recognize that.”

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