Rhinelander Saturday Program for Deaf Children and Teens Honors Lost Participant

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On Saturday, April 30th, I had a great treat – the chance to sit outside on a beautiful day and watch a very quiet game of basketball among a very energetic group of deaf teens. Some of the teens are strong players, good enough for their high school teams. Others have played only a few times per year, mostly as part of our program. Even better, the game is co-ed. And, while winning and losing matters a bit, what matters most is that everyone who participates has fun.

For the past seven years, The Children’s Aid Society Rhinelander Saturday Program for Deaf Children and Teens has organized a basketball game and dinner for deaf teens from all over the city. The game was established in memory of a former Saturday Program participant and staff member named Kevin Lazare who was killed in a violent mugging; we believe he could not hear his attackers’ demands. After the game, there is always a moment of silence in Kevin’s memory. Before they moved to Georgia three years ago, Kevin’s mother helped cook dinner for the group and his brothers played basketball with the deaf teens.

This year the event was special because we had help from an amazing group of volunteers from TransCanada. Led by Community Relations Coordinator, Sharon Scott, the group included referees, coaches, “waterboys” and food service staff (who in real life are chemists, facilities workers and administrators). The volunteers were just as energetic as the teens. TransCanada has just signed on as a funder for the Saturday Program and their involvement in this event showed us how much they really care about the kids. The volunteers also took over a number of staff responsibilities for this event, so for the first time, Karen Solomon, the Program Director and I, actually found ourselves enjoying the game.

Laura Klein
Director, Rhinelander Children's Center