Brothers Paralyzed in Crash That Killed Parents Help Win Wheelchair Basketball Championship
Two Texas brothers who were left paralyzed in a head-on car crash that killed their parents have managed to defy all odds.
Seven years after the 2011 accident, Aaron and Peter Berry — who lost the ability to walk — helped the TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels Basketball Team defeat the Blazesports Jr. Hawks in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s National Championship Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, according to ABC 13.
“It makes all of us feel accomplished. We can do anything we put our minds to,” Aaron — whose team was the no. 1 seed in their division when they entered the competition — told the news outlet.
In July 2011, the brothers were in traveling on the road during a family vacation to Colorado when another vehicle crossed into their lane and hit the Berry family’s car, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Peter, then 9, Aaron, 8, and their sister Willa, then 5, were rescued from the vehicle. Willa, according to the Chronicle, remembers seeing her mother, Robin, lifeless and her father, Josh, trying to speak before both succumbed to their injuries at only 40 and 41, respectively.
Willa broke two limbs, while her brothers were left paralyzed from the waist down due to severe spinal cord injuries, the outlet said.
Today, the children live with with Josh’s middle brother Matt and his wife Simone, who vowed to take the children if something ever happened to the couple, reported the Chronicle in 2012.
Peter told ABC 13 that when he was in rehab after the accident, he got in his wheelchair and “fell in love with the sport right away.”
And it’s had an impact.
Their coach, Trice Ham, told ABC 13 that Peter and Aaron are “great young men who have been through a lot in their lives,” which has, in turn, brought them “a lot of perspective and they’re very joyful in their lives.”
All members of the winning team are middle school and high school students that have physical disabilities, ABC 13 said. The national championship win marked the team’s first since 2015.
In addition to being champion wheelchair basketball players, the brothers are also active in pushing for change in safe driving laws. According to The Buzz Magazines, their focus has been Texas legislation that would ban hand-held cell phone use while driving.
“We deep down needed a way to inform other people about the dangers of distracted driving,” Peter told the Buzz Magazines last year.
They helped create OLIE, or “One Life is Enough,” which is the only student-developed and driven distracted driving safety program in the country, according to their website.
“We created pledges that drivers could sign,” Peter, who has met with legislators in the Texas capital and spoken on the floor of the state Senate with his brother, told the Buzz Magazines.
Added caregiver Simone to the outlet, “It just grew and grew. As a family, we’ve been speaking at events and legislation, telling our story, in hopes of getting the law passed. It’s a very simple law: no texting and driving.”