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One leg, no limits



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AmpuTeam player Ray Stinson looks to get past OMS Tropics player Ron Roop. (click for larger version)

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AmpuTeam player Ray Stinson looks to get past OMS Tropics player Ron Roop. (click for larger version)
December 18, 2013 - People are different on the outside, but inside, they're all the same and deserve to be treated equally and with respect.

That was the main message of a special basketball game played at Oxford Middle School Friday morning.

A group of OMS teachers known as the Tropics squared off against the AmpuTeam Spartans, a group of amputee players that each wear an artificial leg.

The AmpuTeam Spartans are sponsored by the Rochester Hills-based Wright & Filippis, the nation's largest family-owned provider of home medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, respiratory services and medical supplies.

"We've been doing this on-and-off for about seven years," explained the team's coach, Brad Shebib, a certified prosthetist for Wright & Filippis. "We usually take on hospital groups."

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"Usually, we (play) for charity; today it's about raising awareness," Shebib continued. "If you have something that's limiting you, something that you feel is a disability, look at what these guys are capable of and think again."

The team was also there to reinforce the school's anti-bullying efforts.

Prior to the game, Shebib told the assembled students, "Be careful who you're poking fun at because when you see these guys play, you're going to be quite surprised at how good they can be."

Shebib noted the AmpuTeam Spartans had never played in front of such a large crowd before. More than 1,100 OMS students, plus staff packed the gym to watch the game.

"It's absolutely nuts how many people are here," he said. "We usually play in front of 100 to 150 people. This is remarkable."

OMS seventh-grader Nicholas Knotts got some playing time as part of the AmpuTeam.

The fact that Knotts is missing his left foot and part of his left leg didn't slow him down a bit as he ran, dribbled, passed and shot the ball like a pro thanks to his Flex-Foot Cheetah blade, a custom-built, high performance carbon fiber foot designed for sporting activities.

Even though the Tropics beat the Spartans 29-26 after 20 minutes of intense play, the real winners were the students who learned a valuable lesson about being accepting of others and overcoming perceived limitations.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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