One local basketball team got a rare chance to play at home Saturday. The players, in wheelchairs, usually have to travel hours just to play the game they love.
A typical tournament weekend includes hours in the car for the Kansas City Pioneers, but for the first time in years the Pioneers have a home game.
Justyn Newman loves basketball.
"It's my favorite sport. I like having a ball in my hand, passing, shooting," Newman said.
He doesn't let Legg-Calve-Perthes disease stop him.
"I had a baseball tournament I was in, and my hip started hurting. My dad took me out of the game, then we went to the doctor, and he said I had some sort of disease," Newman said.
"He lost oxygen and blood flow to his femoral head and his pelvis, so that bone is completely dead, so he's not able to put any weight-bearing activities on it whatsoever," said Kelly Newman.
But thanks to his chair, he can now safely play the game.
"Being with friends, talking and communicating because it's a communicating game," Justyn Newman said of why he loves it.
The trouble is finding a game.
"About every other weekend, it can be an almost eight-hour drive there and back. It's a long commute, but it's worth it because it's something that he lives for, and it gives him an opportunity to do something and excel at it," Kelly Newman said.
It's been nearly five years since the Pioneers hosted a tournament in Kansas City. Those who participate say it's a nice break from the road for the players, parents and coaches.
"It's great to be able to play at home, not have to travel, have teams here and have folks come watch what we do. It's a lot of fun," said Ryan Sublett, another member of the Kansas City Pioneers.
Kelly Newman said it's good to be home this weekend, but her family would travel almost anywhere to see Justyn play.
"To be able to be on a team and see other kids with a disability and know that he still has an opportunity to compete and be competitive is the best thing for him. It's a motivator," the proud mom said.
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