Cardinals vs. UVA athletes basketball game benefits Bennett's Village

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A benefit basketball game between the Charlottesville Cardinals wheelchair team and University of Virginia athletes at Charlottesville High School sparked some friendly competition Friday.

Proceeds from this game will all go toward the building of Bennett's Village, a disability accessible playground.

Brandon Rush, captain of the Cardinals, said he got the chance to meet Bennett McClurken-Gibney before he passed away in 2018.

"He was an awesome kid,” said Rush. “So after meeting him, it only made sense for me to come out and support. So once we can get involved we were more than happy to."

McClurken-Gibney passed away due to spinal muscular atrophy. His parents are now building Bennett's Village in his honor.

"An inclusive playground isn't just for people with disabilities,” said Rush, “but it's a playground for everyone, every age, from older down to younger, and it's just going to be great to happen in the community, to have everybody have a place to go where everyone can have fun and have a good time."

Everyone had a good time as the Cardinals played against UVA athletes. Softball player Aly Rayle said playing basketball in a wheelchair changed her perspective.

"Just learning how to navigate around in a wheelchair is so difficult,” said Rayle, “and it's incredible to see the team that we're playing against, the professional team, how quick they are and it's really impressive and really humbling."

The game got intense, and the nationally-ranked Cardinals had to take it easy on the UVA team. To make it fair, the cardinals switched their leading scorer with the UVA team at half time.

"We'll let them hit a couple of baskets here and there, but this second half, we'll really give them the business," said Rush.

The Cardinals still won the game 50 to 46, but UVA put up a good fight and the real winner, in the end, was Bennett's Village, the future playground for all.

If you missed the game, you can donate at the link in the Related Links box to help reach the $5 million goal.

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