Unified Basketball 2018: #18 Levi

Last Friday, for the second year in a row, Zeeland Christian and Baldwin Middle School’s Unified Basketball teams played each other. Teams are made up of unified athletes, who are students with varying levels of disabilities and their partners who are students without disabilities.

What happens on the court is beautiful, fun and energetic. What it means to the parents of these unified athletes is remarkable and inspiring. Here is one of their stories:

#18 Levi

To say that the Unified basketball game was a tremendous experience for our family would be putting it lightly. Since this is our first year at ZCS, we had no idea what to expect concerning the game. We were unable to attend the first game of the season at Hudsonville, so that caused us to look even more forward to the one at home.

We invited two family friends and our Pastor to attend as we wanted Levi to have as much support as possible. Levi was anxious about the game but also very excited. When the team walked into the gym, the first thing Matt (Levi’s dad) noticed was that 1 of the students was holding a sign that they had made and it had Levi’s name on it. This touched Matt’s heart so much that he was instantly in tears and stayed that way for much of the game.

The excitement and adrenaline in the gym was electric! The students were chanting and cheering for everyone involved, including the opposite team.

I can’t begin to describe what this experience did for his self-esteem. He struggles with that a lot at times. The fact that the audience was cheering for him specifically at times made him feel on top of the world. We believe that he felt 100% accepted for who he is while he was out on that court.


The hard thing for us as parents is to put into words how this made us feel. I have told many people that there are just no words to explain it, but I will do my best. To see our child so incredibly happy, excited, pumped up, validated, successful, and proud is all we ever want for him.

To hear people cheering for your son when he makes a good pass or a basket is such a joy to our heart’s. To see him beaming with pride and loving life is something we wish we could bottle up and take out whenever he’s feeling down about himself.

As I write this, I’m holding back the tears as I recall this spectacular experience that both Levi and us will never forget. We are so grateful for the commitment and sacrifice made by the 8th-grade helpers. What a testimony of Christ’s love! Thank you so very much to Coach Dannenberg for all of her hard work and to the many other’s who help as well.

We absolutely cannot wait until next year.


Matt and Sharon
Parents of #18 Levi

Click here to see a video recap of the game.

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