Devon_Berry_1aDevon Berry, Courageous Student-Athlete – Male

Devon Berry, diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at age one, did not want to be defined by what others see; which is someone with a disability. So he chose to play the tough game of football. As captain of the team, Berry was a strong leader for his teammates on the field and in the classroom where he had been an honor student. He also participated in wheelchair basketball, track and field, and recently received a full wrestling scholarship to St. Cloud State University, where he will start this fall.

Bailey_Wind_3Bailey Wind, Courageous Student-Athlete – Female

Bailey Wind had just signed a national letter of intent to be a member of the University of Tennessee's Diving Team.  One week later, she was in a vehicle that was struck by a drunk driver, killing two passengers in her car and leaving Wind with a broken neck, jaw, loosing all her teeth, bilateral pulmonary contusions, and bleeding on the brain. Wind suffered with mental anguish, PTSD, and endured bullying on social media. She worked hard to recover and even became an active member on her dive team for one semester. Wind is now an assistant to the Head Coach, coaches the institution's club team, and has become an advocate against impaired driving.

 

photo taken by Stacy Pearsall

photo taken by Stacy Pearsall

Taylor Urruela, Barrier Breaker

Taylor Urruela dreamt of two things: being a soldier and a baseball player. Urruela joined the US Army in 2004. A year later he was severely injured by two roadside bombs that eventually led to the amputation of his leg. Awarded a Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman's Badge, Urruela retired from the Army in 2011. After retirement, Urruela suffered from PTSD and depression. In his fight to recover, he co-founded VETSports, a nationwide non-profit helping veterans achieve better physical, mental, and emotional health through sports, physical activity, and community involvement. Today he is changing the lives of veterans returning after war and breaking down barriers between veterans who have served our nation and bringing about awareness to those who have never served.

Officer_White_1Officer Bobby White (Gainesville, FL), Civic Leader

Officer Bobby White responded to a noise complaint. Arriving to the scene, Officer White found young men playing basketball.  Officer White joined in the game. Returning the next day to the scene with his own team of officers, including Shaquille O'Neal, Officer White began to build a relationship with these young men based on trust and mutual respect; a benefit for that community and future success. As a result of that interaction, Officer White started Basketball Cop Foundation. Through donations he has been able to send equipment to police stations in seven states. Locally he is helping to bring basketball courts to kids. One game with too much noise was the start of change in the community. A meaningful change.

 

Chris_Singleton_1Chris Singleton, A Hero Among Us

Chris Singleton loves the game of baseball. He was an all-state baseball player in high school and currently plays at Charleston Southern University. He shared the love of baseball with his mother, Sharonda Singleton, who attended almost every game. On the night of June 17, 2015, Sharonda was murdered in a tragic hate crime shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, while Chris was returning home from a baseball game. Chris became a hero when he began speaking out the day after the shooting with a message that “Love is always Stronger than hate. Love the way my mom would and the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.” Chris_Singleton_4Christopher did not want any violence in the community because of this horrific crime. There were no riots. A year later Christopher says he has grown a lot as a young adult and baseball has been his refuge and before every game he writes her initials on his wrist. He has chosen to forgive him and hopes he can make things right with God.

 

Acey_Shaw_2Acey Shaw, Coach

Four-time Idaho Coach of the Year, Acey Shaw, has led small town Dietrich High School to four consecutive state championships. Not only is Shaw a coach, but he is also a proud husband, father, farmer, and rancher. After winning his first state title, back on the ranch he was attempting to save a freezing baby calf. In his attempt, Shaw contracted a virus that eventually led to him losing his motor skills, the ability to walk, and he can barely talk.  With the basketball season soon approaching, Shaw did not want to stop coaching.

He knew his mind was there it was only his body that couldn’t function like it used to. His father-in-law said, that’s where I can come in. His father-in-law could walk and talk for Shaw. It brought Shaw back to coaching where he belonged. The team won every game of the season and went on to a second state championship in overtime. The winning did not stop there. They continued their winning streak and became the smallest school in the state of Idaho to win four back-to-back championships. There may be a lot of things Shaw is unable to do, but he can coach basketball and teach these young women about the game, life and perseverance through adversity. Living life no matter what stands in the way.