A slam dunk event took place at MBU to raise awareness for individuals with Down syndrome.
Photo by Lynn Tyler
The excitement was contagious as fans filled the bleachers to watch Albert’s All-Stars take on a team of MBU Spartan men and women basketball players recently in an annual event raising awareness for individuals with Down syndrome.
The event, at the Student Recreation Center, began with a special tribute to the family of a former Harlem Globetrotter, Meadowlark Lemon, who passed away in December.
Albert’s All-Star charity event for the Pujols Family Foundation gives teens and young adults with Down syndrome the opportunity to experience the game of basketball.
Pujols, a future Hall of Fame baseball player who spent 10 years as a St. Louis Cardinal and now plays for the Anaheim Angels, spent some time on the court along with his son, AJ.
Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Cardinals pitching coach Jason Simontacchi and former Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams were also among the lineup.
Joyner-Kersee, who also played in the event last year, shared her favorite experiences of the night.
“Working with Albert Pujols and remembering Meadowlark and everything that he’s done,” she said. “It was really a great game.”
Simontacchi expressed that one of his favorite moments during the event was the reaction of the All-Star players.
“Seeing the kids when they scored for the first time, seeing how the crowd erupted, and then them feeling more excited,” said Simontacchi.
Lauren Heinekke, 22, was also part of the All-Star roster. She said she had “a blast” and what she enjoyed most was “playing with the team” as well as “hanging out with the guys and having fun.”
The halftime show was a performance by the Totally Awesome Girls Group (TAGG) pom squad.
After the first routine, the MBU cheerleaders joined them on the court for a dance collaboration.
In the end, the event was all about showcasing the abilities of the players with Down syndrome.
Although the Spartans put up a good fight, the All-Stars pulled through with the win.
Afterward the All-Stars and celebrities made themselves available to everyone on the court for photos and autographs.