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English professor gifts $10K for OSU wheelchair basketball team

Monday, April 10, 2006

Inspired by her brother’s struggle as a paraplegic, OSU English professor Dr. Elizabeth Grubgeld recently donated $10,000 to the university’s wheelchair basketball team.  

A gift announcement ceremony will be held in Stillwater at the fourth annual Wheelchair Basketball Bash at 7 p.m. on April 11 in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Grubgeld was motivated to make the gift in memory of her late brother, Lester Edward “Ed” Grubgeld Jr., who spent much of his life in a wheelchair. Grubgeld’s memorial gift will benefit the adaptive sports program’s inaugural summer camp for youth with disabilities. Since the team doesn’t receive athletic funding, the gift will also provide scholarship funds, travel expenses and other opportunities for the OSU wheelchair basketball team.  

“My hope in supporting the wheelchair basketball team is that it will encourage more gifts to the program,” Grubgeld said. “Current and future financial support will help the adaptive sports program develop a strong outreach program for people who aren’t as integrated into the available opportunities. By giving people a sense of their physical strengths, we can help shift the focus off of their limitations.”

During a car accident in 1960, 16-year-old Ed suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The Grubgeld family lived in rural California, where no adaptive sports or resources for paraplegic individuals existed. After the family moved to Palo Alto, California, Ed began working at the Stanford University Medical Library in 1967 and served as a library aid for 34 years. Due in part to health problems arising from a lack of physical activity, he passed away suddenly from heart failure in 2001.

“I strongly believe that had adaptive sports been available for Ed when he was a young man, he would not have developed some of the physical problems that later plagued him,” Grubgeld said. “Additionally, he would have had more opportunities for contact with others who understood and shared some of the same issues.”  

OSU’s adaptive sports program provides recreation and athletic opportunities for students with disabilities. In addition to wheelchair-based sports, the program integrates students into mainstream campus recreation activities, such as intramurals, outdoor adventure, sports clubs and fitness classes. OSU’s wheelchair basketball team is recognized by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association as one of 10 eligible collegiate teams in the country.  

“With Dr. Grubgeld’s help, the adaptive sports program is going to provide scholarships for a few individuals with disabilities, as well as the desire to learn by attend our first summer wheelchair basketball camp,” said Stacey Pinney, adaptive sports coordinator and wheelchair basketball coach. “Not only will this provide students with outlets for recreation, but it will also help improve their quality of life.”

A gift announcement will be held at halftime of the Wheelchair Basketball Bash. In addition to the wheelchair basketball team, men’s and women’s basketball teams, and Stillwater police and firefighters will scrimmage at the event. The evening features a demonstration of competitive wheelchair basketball and information about services and products for individuals with disabilities. Proceeds benefit the adaptive sports and wheelchair basketball programs at OSU.

“I am a recipient of a past donor’s generosity and have firsthand knowledge of how far that gift has enabled students with disabilities to be held accountable for their own futures,” OSU senior and wheelchair basketball team co-captain Anthony Meadows said. “I would personally like to thank Dr. Grubgeld for her donation to the adaptive sports program at OSU."

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