Hoop dreams: my brother’s journey to the Special Olympics World Games
Note…this post was written by my mom, Ann Carr. Words cannot express how proud I am of her…and my little brother, Shane.
In 2001, my son Shane was 18 and passionate about the game of basketball. Throughout his youth, Shane was integrated into his favourite sport with his typical peers in P.E. class and community programs. He learned many skills and could hold his own on the court – despite the fact that he has Noonan Syndrome (a developmental disorder) Shane became a very talented player. However, Shane’s physical ability and cognitive understanding of the game would not allow him to continue playing within the typical basketball programs offered in his community. The sport he had become so passionate about, and had learned so much from, was no longer an option for him. For this reason, I started the first basketball program in British Columbia for youth with developmental challenges.
Any parent knows that when your child finds something that makes them excited, motivated and happy you want to encourage them to pursue it. This was how Shane was with basketball. He learned EVERYTHING through basketball: social skills, academic skills, physical skills. He lived for basketball, and he shone when he was on the court like any other teenage athlete. I was not about to see him sit back and loose interest in something that became an integral part of his life. My program, The Developmentally Challenged Youth Basketball Association (DCYBA), gave young men like Shane the opportunity to play the sport they loved with non-challenged peers. Shane was able to continue with his passion…and it was only the beginning!
In 2003, the Special Olympics World Summer Games were being held in Ireland (my home country!). Basketball was played all over the world within Special Olympics ( and was one of the largest team sports that would be showcased at this event. At the time, however, basketball was not offered by Special Olympics in Canada. I decided I wanted to attend the World Games as a volunteer to see individuals with challenges similar to Shane compete; I wanted a measure for where we could go in developing our program. Volunteering at the World Games became my quest. Eventually, I received confirmation that my sister, Shane and I were accepted as volunteers within the sport of basketball and off we went! Little did I know I would be taken on a journey of a life time.
Needless to say we were all very excited, especially Shane. My sister, who coaches our DCYBA players, was probably the most excited as she had no previous experience with coaching individuals with challenges and this would give her the confidence she required to continue on. We all learned so much; I saw what I needed to see, which was the abilities and courage of athletes from all over the world playing a sport at often the same level as college basketball. It was in Ireland that Shane decided he wanted to play for Special Olympics at the World Games one day!
From 2001 to 2014 the DCYBA program took on a life of its own. We expanded from one program of 10 players to three programs with a total of 55 players participating. During this time, Special Olympics Canada sanctioned three new sports, one being basketball . Of course, Shane was thrilled! He would now have another avenue to pursue the sport he is so passionate about. I led Shane and some of the other DCYBA players to the Vancouver Special Olympics program where they now play every Saturday. They competed in the Provincial Games and made it to the Canadian Special Olympics National Summer Games, which were being held at UBC last year. As the Nationals got closer Shane turned to me and said ‘mom, maybe we will have a chance to make it to the World Games and play teams we saw in Ireland’. At that moment I thought, anything is possible…and it was. Shane’s team won the entire National tournament! The excitement and tears were flowing on that day! Little did I know that my son’s dream of playing basketball and my dedication to making it possible for him would lead to him playing for Canada at the 2015 Special Olympic World Summer Games.
Dreams do come true!