SOURCE: Diane Moca with Chicago Parent

For seven years, Drew Beutel had not been able to play his favorite sport with his classmates at Crone Middle School in Naperville. That changed recently when his parents, teachers and coaches coordinated a special event to introduce wheelchair basketball to all the sixth-graders during their gym period.

It gave Drew a chance to show off his outstanding skills — zipping around the court in his wheelchair, snatching the ball in mid-air, and making amazing shots. The session also gave his peers a chance to understand what Drew faces every day.

Drew developed transverse myelitis when he 18 months old, and he was never able to run and jump like other kids after that. Though he learned how to get around with a walker and wheelchair, Drew longed to compete as an athlete. He found his niche after joining a wheelchair basketball team when he was 5 and he’s been active in the sport ever since.