Updated 04/19/2012 09:04 PM
STARS are born at 10th Annual Sitrin Celebrity Classic
Sitrin Health Care held its 10th Annual Celebrity Classic Wheelchair Basketball Game Thursday. Our Sarah Blazonis has more on how the event has grown during the years.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- As he prepared to face SU basketball player Kris Joseph, along with other top athletes on the basketball court, Devon Henry showed no trace of nerves.
"I'm just very excited to be here tonight and I hope that we can beat these guys," said Henry.
Henry's team, the Sitrin STARS, has a long history of doing just that in Sitrin's Annual Celebrity Classic Wheelchair Basketball Game.
Olympian Erin Hamlin's played in the game for several years now and says it's a challenge every time.
"I would have to wheel myself back and forth down the court, which is insanely difficult. Being able to shoot without using anything but your arms is also very hard," said Hamlin.
This year marks the Celebrity Classic's tenth anniversary and officials say it gets bigger every year. What started out as a crowd of 100 has grown to more than 1,000 this year.
Sitrin's Adaptive Sports Program has grown, too, with athletes representing the U.S. in events like the World Wheelchair Curling Championship and, soon, the 2014 Paralympics.
"We're here to improve your quality of life, to give you a chance to get off the sidelines and play the game and this is just one opportunity to make that happen," said Marc DePerno, the program's director.
The $50,000 raised at the basketball game throughout the years has gone towards buying special equipment for handicapped athletes. Something today's players say has made a world of difference to them.
"It gave me hope that people, just because they're down and out doesn't mean they can't get back in the community and reintegrate themselves and be a good part of society," said Henry.
A hope program organizers plan to continue spreading for the next ten years and beyond.