Feranmi Okanlami (M.D. 2011) played basketball with his 7-year-old son recently. Just a small, sweet moment between a father and son — or that’s what it would have been, if it weren’t something so much bigger.
Okanlami, paralyzed from the chest down during a 2013 pool accident, has regained some mobility and function since then, but still uses a wheelchair most of the time. So sharing some moments on the court with his son was particularly meaningful to him. “My son said, ‘Dad, now we can play together,’” Okanlami recalls.
That moment reminded Okanlami of why it is so important to him to try to get an adaptive sports program started at the university.
While he is pushing for the creation of an adaptive sports program for U-M students, Michigan Medicine already has a competitive wheelchair basketball team for kids. The Michigan Rollverines, run by the U-M Adaptive and Inclusive Sports Experience (UMAISE), a joint effort of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Family Medicine, competed in its first tournament earlier this year. The team received new sports wheelchairs in 2018, thanks to support from Dance Marathon, a nonprofit led by U-M undergraduates.