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A special game
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Photo courtesy Painted Barn Media Landon Pascal, 11, faces off against McMinnville Fire Department engineer Scott Norrod during the inaugural Special Games Basketball game Saturday.
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Photo courtesy Painted Barn Media Jacob Wanamaker shoots and scores with a bit of encouragement from basketball buddy Kimberly Smith.

High-fives and high scores took place at the first Special Games basketball game on Saturday at WCHS where they competed against members of McMinnville Fire Department and soaked the competition.

“The first game was better than I ever could’ve expected,” says Holly McBride, director and co-founder of McMinnville Special Games. “The community support was amazing. It was really humbling to see all of the people come to support our special guys and gals.”

Inside Warren County High School’s gymnasium on Saturday, the stands were filled with over 100. They cheered for the 27 players in the Special Games Basketball League.

“There have been less words and much more happy tears,” says McBride. “Parents are ecstatic because their kids feel like rock stars. The day was all about them and everyone was cheering them on. The kids were ecstatic, but for the parents to see their kids being celebrated and encouraged is really touching since their kids don’t often get the recognition they deserve.”

The free game gained over $1,070 in donations, helping the team purchase its own basketball equipment and fund future events. 

“We were absolutely not expecting that much,” says McBride. “We didn’t start this to make money, but this will help the organization so much. All profits will go to upcoming events and the organization.”

McMinnville Fire Department was no match against the Special Games players, who won 47-7. 

“I liked playing and making baskets. My favorite part was when I scored,” says Layton Kirby, 13. “The fire department doesn’t have anything on us.”

“I loved everything about playing. The fire department wasn’t the best, but they were pretty good. We were the winners, though,” adds Penelope Fogle, 8. “I feel very good and excited about playing the next game.”

Around nine basketball buddies of all ages aided players who were unable to perform certain things on their own. 

“I really enjoy helping with this. I love how they get the spotlight for the week,” says basketball buddy Kimberly Smith. “I’m so happy everyone is here and cheering the players on. The players encourage each other whether they’re on the same team or not. They just have a great time!”

The fire department handed out plastic fire hats, stickers and pencils. A fire engine was set up outside of the gym entrance for the kids to play on.

“I had a lot of fun, and I think playing against the fire department was pretty awesome,” says Anna Ming, 18.

“We enjoyed the game very much,” adds Scott Norrod, engineer for McMinnville Fire Department. “This is such a fantastic organization and this was a great opportunity for us to interact with our community in ways we don’t normally do. We are looking forward to future events.”

An upcoming game will take place between the Special Games Basketball League and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department beginning at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 15, in the WCHS gymnasium.