PALs launch new charity event at Bridgeland for disabled athletes


With the loss of their sponsorship from Memorial Hermann due to the pandemic, a Houston based wheelchair basketball team, Hotwheels, is searching for new ways to fund their trip to the NWBA National Tournament in Kansas City, MO.

Bridgeland’s new basketball head coach and PALs teacher, Jon Pillow, wants to help the disabled youth basketball team by hosting a wheelchair basketball game to raise money and awareness for the team. Not only is he trying to relieve economic uncertainty from the disabled youth team, but he is trying to create a new leadership opportunity for Bridgeland students to come together and promote community service.

The event will take place Thursday, March 3 at 6:00 p.m. in Bridgeland High School’s Competition Gym. Spearheading the event in collaboration with Coach Pillow is the school’s Peer Assisted Leadership program, popularly known as PALs. The program has divided itself into five different committees so they can effectively take care of all aspects of the event, such as communications and decorations. PALs will be able to put their leadership skills to use for organizing, promoting and managing the occasion. Coach Pillow says he is proud of the strides already being made by the kids in the program.

“The class itself is about leaders, I mean, it’s called Peer Assisted Leadership,” Pillow said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of [putting them at the forefront], as far as, you know, picking their brain, getting ideas, and [coming up] with the final product.”

The charity exhibition game is also intended to maximize participation from a variety of Bridgeland extracurriculars and clubs through multiple volunteer opportunities. The proposal also includes getting the Belles, Claw Crew, Cheer and the Sapphire Soul Sisters to provide in-game entertainment. With the goal of expanding student perspectives in mind, the plan suggests the event’s potential impact could have over 500 Bridgeland students playing a part. Pillow says when they proposed the idea to the Bridgeland administration, the positive impact of bringing a variety of students together really caught their eye.

PALs members pose for a group picture in front of Berry Center staircase.

“[The Bridgeland administration’s feedback] was very positive,” Pillow said. “They love it. They have a couple of questions from the administrative side that we’re working on, but they think it’d be a great thing for the school and for the kids.”

Although the event provides many opportunities surrounding the game, it also provides roles in the game. The Hotwheels will be playing against any Bridgeland student who wants to volunteer to play in a wheelchair against the team. Depending on the anticipated volunteers, Pillow and PALs will modify the quarters and the minutes each person can play accordingly.

Amidst the approval of the proposal, a direct crowdfunding link will be established where anyone can donate to the cause, and it will be posted on multiple social media platforms. Tickets will also be sold to attend the event and those proceeds will go towards the Hotwheels’ trip to nationals.

“Any and every amount of money to help offset the cost will be huge [for the team],” Pillow said.

Coach Pillow says he has been involved in helping Hotwheels for years at the previous school he worked at and sees the significant impact it has made on the players and the people lending a hand in helping them. He says based on the success of the event, he plans on making this game a staple for the Bridgeland community.

“One of the dreams of any coach is to be able to set traditions and set the tone of the [school’s] program,” Pillow said. “And in the coaching world, when you have the ability to go to a school that’s relatively new and establish those customs or traditions, that means everything…and to be able to bring that to Bridgeland is huge.”