Milford athlete selected for NBA Cares
Ashley Aldrich got quite a surprise one December morning as she reported to her job at Milford High School. The Special Olympics athlete who volunteers daily in the school’s Special Education department was greeted with an exciting message: “You’re going to NBA Cares!”
The NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Experience is an annual event as part of NBA All-Stars. A select number of athletes from around the world compete in a Unified game alongside NBA and WNBA legends. The athletes apply to be a part of this event including a video where they talk about their experience with basketball and Special Olympics, and why they would like to be a part of this opportunity. This year’s game will take place on Friday February 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina with many other special events for the athletes taking place throughout the week.
Ashley trains once a week with her team during basketball season, and practices at home several times a week. Her favorite part about basketball is being with her friends. She liked practicing rebounds and playing point guard best.
She was most interested in being a part of the NBA Cares team to meet other athletes and “be with other people who like basketball like me.”
Basketball is important to Ashley because it is something she did with her dad, who passed away eight years ago.
“My favorite basketball memory is when I was playing with my dad,” she said. “When I was young, me and my dad played basketball and that’s when I found out it was so much fun. I know that he would want me to continue, and I want to continue playing for him.”
Jen Walsh, Local Program Coordinator for the Milford Special Olympics program nominated Ashley for NBA Cares.
“As long as I’ve known her since she was a small child she has lived for basketball and it’s her passion,” Walsh said. “I know her favorite memories were always with her dad growing up.”
Beyond her basketball skills, Walsh says Ashley is a great role model for others.
“She’s an excellent teammate, she’s always sharing and setting up other players. She’s about everybody as a team,” she said. “Outside basketball, Ashley volunteers every day at Milford High School in the Special Ed department.”
Ashley says Special Olympics has changed her life by giving me opportunities to be a better athlete and to become independent.
About NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball:
This year marks the eighth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball game during the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, NC. Twelve Special Olympics athletes from around the globe were selected to participate in this event which provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness of Special Olympics, of the abilities of our athletes, and to share our message of unity and inclusion through sports with millions of viewers around the world.
This Special Olympics Unified® experience will combine an equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for a 5-‐on-‐5 Basketball game with 10 players on each team. Each team will be comprised of 4 NBA legends, WNBA players, and 6 Special Olympics athletes. The game will be played for 40 minutes with two 20-‐minute halves running time with a 10-‐minute half-‐time break.