Missouri's only youth wheelchair basketball team takes on police - KMOV.com

Missouri's only youth wheelchair basketball team takes on police

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The Junior Rolling Rams wheelchair basketball team at practice (Credit: KMOV) The Junior Rolling Rams wheelchair basketball team at practice (Credit: KMOV)

A one-of-a-kind basketball game is coming up in December, which is when Missouri’s only youth wheelchair basketball team will face off against St. Louis County Police.

It will be a fun, family-friendly night but the reason for the game goes beyond a couple hours of entertainment. Every player on the Junior Rolling Rams wheelchair basketball team has a lower limb disability that keeps them from playing traditional basketball but that doesn’t slow them down.

“I think it’s kind of fun,” said Liam Niemira, one of the team’s youngest players. “I feel like it’s just normal, how it’s supposed to be.”

Since kids like Liam are on the only team in the region, they have to travel to other states to play sanctioned games, which gets expensive. So, when they were thinking of fundraisers, Liam’s dad had an idea. He’s a police officer in the City of St. Louis with a lot of friends in the St. Louis County Police Department. He said officers jumped at the chance to get involved and have the police face off with players, with everyone on the court in wheelchairs.             

“What better way to show the best and the biggest and the strongest and the bravest that the region has to offer in able-bodied people, against the bravest and strongest people that use wheelchairs, and then we put the biggest and bravest able-bodied people on the level of those with a disability,” said Ron Niemira, Liam’s dad.

Not only will the game be a fundraiser for the players and a chance for police to get involved in the community, it will also serve as an important conversation starter for other families.

“I want the able-bodied kids, the parents with able-bodied kids, to show up and know it’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to understand things are done differently, people are different, and that’s what we want to celebrate. We don’t want to ignore it,” said Neimira. “We can show our kids just because his legs don’t work the same way your legs work doesn’t mean he can’t play basketball. He can play basketball. He just has to play differently than you. I think when we start to acknowledge the differences in our community and celebrate those differences, that is when the community comes together.”

The game will be at De Smet High School on December 5. Doors open at 6 p.m. with tip-off at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $4 a person, or $10 for the family. Police are planning to put on a K9 show at halftime.

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