Basin Electric employees shoot hoops to support a ‘wheel-y’ good cause

wheelchair basketball team

The “Basin Electric Ballers” participated in this year’s wheelchair basketball tournament. The team (left to right): Kelly Bergquist, Dustin Erhardt, James Gardner, Mike Zimmerman, and Ken Rutter.

Five Basin Electric employees, all current and former competitive basketball players, recently joined together to form a team unlike any they’ve played on before.

The Basin Electric Ballers, led by team captain and Cybersecurity/Compliance Specialist III Dustin Erhardt, and made up of Senior Vice President of Marketing and Asset Management Ken Rutter, Senior Auditor Kelly Bergquist, Support Center Representative I James Gardner, and Business Analyst III Mike Zimmerman, all rookies to the sport of wheelchair basketball, placed third out of 14 teams in the 2018 Dreams in Motion March Mobility Madness wheelchair basketball tournament on March 18.

This annual tournament is a fundraising event for Dreams in Motion, a U.S. Paralympic Club based in North Dakota that provides competitive and recreational sports programs critical to the health and well-being of youth and adults with mobility challenges or visual impairments. The tournament is open to both mobility-challenged and able-bodied youth and adults. Basin Electric sponsored the Basin Electric Ballers team. through its Charitable Giving Program.

The games in the tournament were shorter than normal basketball games, consisting of two, five-minute halves. But even with the 10-minute games, the team was surprised at how difficult it was. “We’ve all played basketball before, but this was definitely harder than I thought it would be,” Erhardt says. “We played five games and by the fifth one, we were struggling. It’s amazing the upper body strength it takes to wheel yourself around dribble and shoot the ball while sitting. I sure felt it the next day!”

The tournament’s referees are all wheelchair basketball players, and played a two-on-two exhibition game, an impressive sight to all who watched. At one point, it got so physical that one player’s wheelchair, with him in it, got knocked on its side, but within seconds it was upright and the player was back in the chair speeding down the court. See video.

“The whole experience was very eye opening,” Erhardt says. “I never realized how much I took for granted – just being able to run down the court while dribbling the ball and being able to make a shot using my arms and legs. These mobility-challenged athletes that play this sport are unbelievable. It’s amazing how they don’t let their disability slow them down. This tournament benefits a great cause, and I am looking forward to participating in it again next year.”

See a video from the tournament on KFYR-TV’s website: March Mobility Madness allows disabled to play too

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