The Rochester Wheels Division III team from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association will play against Newark Central School District staff at 7 p.m. on May 23 at Newark Middle School, 701 Peirson Ave.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the team, NMS Student Council and the Blessings in a Backpack program based in Newark.
Rochester Wheels players participate in exhibition fundraiser games to provide financial support for the team’s tournament schedule, and provide outreach and disability awareness to the community. Visit bit.ly/2I8f4GQ for information.
The benefit game was seventh-grade NMS math teacher Scott Briggs’ idea. Years ago, he arranged for the Rochester Rockets to play a benefit game in Newark. The team featured wheelchair-bound youth.
Briggs first learned about the Rochester Rockets from his friend Mike Sheehe, who used to co-coach the Rockets.
After being disabled in 1966 “through the negligent act of an intoxicated driver,” which necessitated his legs be amputated 5 inches above both knees, Sheehe, 70, a Newark native who lives in Palmyra, has since spent much of his life educating others about the perils of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Working as the coordinator of education for the Wayne County Stop DWI program for 30 years, Sheehe also played with the Rochester Wheels in “hundreds of exhibition games” during the 13 years he was a member of the team. He co-coached the Rochester Rockets team with Steve Barbato for five years. He is an instructor for a 16-hour New York State Department of Motor Vehicles impaired driver education program at Finger Lakes Community College in Hopewell attended by people who are convicted of drug- and alcohol-related offenses on the highway.
Sheehe met Briggs 20 years ago when he was a presenter at the Stop DWI program. It was not long after that the NMS teacher started sharing with young drivers and other groups the story of how his dad, Earl Briggs, and the lives of three Red Creek boys were lost in a road rage accident on April 26, 1997. Both Sheehe and Briggs continue to present at Stop DWI and other programs in the area.
Like Briggs, Sheehe sees the Rochester Wheels games as an opportunity to raise awareness about individuals with disabilities.
“The games help people realize the fact that being disabled does not exclude you from living a life to your fullest potential,’’ Sheehe said. “They see ability, rather than disability.”
Admission is $1 for students, $2 for adults and free for ages 5 and younger. Concessions and a 50/50 raffle will be available at the game.
“My hope is that watching the fun-filled antics and interaction between our Newark staff players and the amazing Rochester Wheels players will make for a really enjoyable and ultimately inspirational evening for everyone attending,’’ Briggs said.