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Bona Vista Disability Awareness Basketball Game returns for 20th year

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Mar. 25—The high school basketball season may be nearing its end, but there was still plenty of Hoosier Hysteria at this year’s Bona Vista Disability Awareness Basketball Game.

For the 20th year, the Bona Vista All Stars and the Kokomo Celebrity Team faced off in a charity basketball game to benefit Bona Vista and its various programs Wednesday. The organization provides services to more than 2,000 children and adults with disabilities in north central Indiana. Programming includes education, life skills, pediatric and early childhood therapies, adult day services, residential homes, supported living and employment assistance programs

The event, held at and in partnership with Carver Community Center, was started as a fun way to educate the community during Disability Awareness Month in March.

This year’s Celebrity Team, made up of local business owners, media personalities and other Bona Vista supporters, included Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore, Shelly Wyman, Mark Jansen, Misty Oliver, Ryan Smalley, Troy Stiner, Brian Pier, Jonathan Rogers, Jack Hingst and Jessica Green.

They were no match, though, for the Bona Vista All Stars, who pulled away in the second half, survived a last-minute push by the Celebrities and ended up winning the game 48-41. The All Stars have now won 11-straight games against the Celebrity Team.

One of the All Stars’ top scorers of the game was Antonio Reyes, who attributed his team’s victory to teamwork and executing the team’s game plan.

“We practiced with each other a lot,” he said. “Most of us have played ball with one another. We played excellent. It’s all about teamwork and having fun.”

This year’s game was livestreamed over Facebook and was forced to have a very limited crowd due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s game was canceled due to the pandemic.

The nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser — The Greatest Spectacle in Tasting — was canceled both last year and this year because of the pandemic so organizers were just happy to be able to hold this year’s basketball game, even if fans couldn’t attend.

“It’s really weird to not have it in Memorial Gym and not have all our clients’ family come. … We’re excited to be having it, but it’s definitely a different feel,” Tiffany Damitz, director of development for Bona Vista, said, adding that the nonprofit is hoping to put on the usual charity game the community has grown to love, audience and all, next year.

Wednesday’s game is expected to raise $15,000 for the organization, Damitz said. A little more than $6,000 of that was raised by the members of The Celebrity Team. Shelly Wyman, of The Wyman Group, was crowned this year’s BV MVP for raising the most money with $1,925.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich

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