Aurora U. students host eighth annual basketball game for special-needs students
Aurora University students hosted an eighth annual basketball game for disabled and special needs students from Hope D. Wall Elementary School in Aurora on Thursday, March 24.
The event in Thornton Gym was sponsored by about 30 collegians in Mu Sigma Pi health professions fraternity and friends.
Wall was represented by athletes, coaches, cheerleaders, staff members and friends. The game returned after cancellations in 2021 and 2020 to the pandemic.
John Lloyd of North Aurora, retired AU biology professor, former Mu Sigma Pi faculty adviser and Hoops founder, was the referee.
With help from Lloyd and AU students, the Rockets won 100-20. A feature was a halftime dance routine performed by Wall cheerleaders.
Lloyd said he initiated the annual contest in 2012 when his stepson, Chris, was a Wall student and Rockets player.
According to Lloyd, "I noticed that Rockets' games were played in small gyms with very few spectators. I thought it would be nice to have the Rockets play in a large gym with many spectators and feel the atmosphere of a real basketball game similar to high school and college games, especially during March Madness.
"The activity enabled Mu Sigma Pi students to interact with special needs individuals at the game. And the game matched the club's mission to promote physical, mental and spiritual health in the community. Additionally, the event provides service learning."
Halftime activities at earlier games raised up to $325 for the Hope D. Wall Elementary School.
It included a 50/50 raffle, half-court basketball shoot, and sales of basketball-shaped cookies. Faculty and staff also agreed to accept whipped cream pies in their faces for donations.
Due to time constraints, the halftime fundraisers were not held this year.
Hope D. Wall (1912-2001) was a local pioneer in special education.
In 1961, Aurora-area parents asked her to help start a school for disabled and mentally challenged students.
Without formal training in working with disabled children, she accepted the challenge.
Wall began as the lone teacher at the private, eight-student school. In 1969, the East and West Aurora school districts agreed to partner to transform the private school into a public school and build a new facility at 449 W. New Indian Trail Court. The school was named in honor of Wall.