Hoops on Wheels

Lee Montgomery was born without legs. Pat Besta lost the use of his legs during an auto accident, and Tanner Gentry lost a leg in a boating accident.
Matt DeYoung
Nov 12, 2011

 

All three are now bound to a wheelchair, and while they won’t deny it was difficult accepting their fate, the trio have made the most of their respective situations.

Montgomery, Besta and Gentry are all members of the Grand Rapids Pacers wheelchair basketball team. The trio visited Peach Plains Elementary School in Grand Haven on Friday as part of the “Step Into My Shoes” program.

“This is their second time coming, and they just shared their stories ,how it happened, and how it’s affected them,” said Leah Duplissis, resource room teacher at Peach Plains. “The kids are unbelievably pumped about it.”

The three members of the Pacers all stressed the importance of having strong support from family and friends to get through their situations.

“They said they were never placed in a position to be bullied because they had such a strong group of family and friends around them,” Duplissis said. “One of the things that Lee said, ‘I find that those of you who bully people like me are actually the ones with the problem,’ which I thought was cool.

“They talked about how we all have hearts, we all have feelings.”

The students were especially interested in Gentry’s story. Gentry, just 13, had his leg amputated after being struck by a boat while tubing when he was eight years old.

After watching the three Pacers handle the basketball and make a few hoops, the Peach Plains students got a chance to try their hand in the wheelchairs the basketball players use. Several races were held, then the students took a few shots at the basket. They quickly realized how difficult it is to send the ball through the rim from a sitting position.

 

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