Wheelchair-bound student plays in high school basketball game

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Brandon Wechsler has enough determination and heart for an entire basketball team.

“Brandon is our heart and soul, he represents everything we work for,” said Wechsler’s best friend Drew Bender, who starts on the Pinnacle High School basketball team.

Wechsler is the team manager, and has attended nearly every practice and home game in his four years in that role.

“Brandon has always wanted to play basketball since he was a little boy, and unfortunately he was never able to,” said Wechsler’s mother Eydie Mandell.

Wechsler was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a terminal condition that has left him wheelchair bound and unable to lift his arms over his head.

His disability never dampened his determination to be a part of the basketball team, though he always wanted a chance to play.

Friday night, during a regular season game against Sandra Day O’Connor High School, Wechsler finally got his chance.

After head coach Charlie Wilde got permission from the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board and Sandra Day O’Connor coach Luke Neibling, Wechsler was allowed to suit up as part of the starting line-up.

“I’m the first player in a wheelchair to start in a high school basketball game,” Wechsler said.

“I don’t know if it’s possible, but I think I’m more excited than he is,” said Bender.

A standing crowd cheered his name as Wechsler took possession of the ball for one play, then headed to the sidelines to root on his teammates.

“Kids in wheelchairs can do anything like other kids can do,” Wechsler said.

Wechsler’s father Len Wechsler tells 3TV Brandon has started the B-Inspired Foundation to help raise money for other children in wheelchairs.

Brandon Wechsler hopes his story is an inspiration to anyone who sees it.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude,” he said.