WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It's the offseason at Trask Coliseum, but on Wednesday morning hundreds of athletes were getting up shots in the gym.
Special Olympics basketball skills day brought programs from New Hanover County High Schools and more to Trask for a day of skill games, drills, competitions, and basketball with UNCW players like Devontae Cacok joining in to support the event.
"You can't put a dollar amount on it, but you get that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart, because you know you're making a difference," said Gerald Velie, transition job coach for New Hanover County Schools. "That's what life's all about, making a difference for both the families and the students."
For all that the Seahawks have done in this gym, it was the Special Olympic athletes inspiring all involved on Wednesday. Kids and adults of all ages who face far greater challenges than a good defense, like Ian Lerch, who was diagnosed with seizures at 11 months, and then ADHD and other mental disabilities in preschool.
"On a day like today when I can watch him participate in a sport, see how much fun he has, see him connect with his friends, cheer them on and see them cheer him on, that's what it's all about at this stage in the game," said Brigid Lerch, Ian's mother. "It's amazing."
Ian is an athlete in every sense of the word. Basketball, swimming, tennis, golf, baseball, softball – he does it all.
"It makes me feel good and proud of myself," he said. "I accomplished something as my goal and see what I'm good at."