Sam Jam draws Portland community to Chiles Center

By The Beacon | April 17, 2014 2:24am
Senior Korey Thieleke cracks a smile during the game against the WheelBlazers. Photo by Alexandra Bush

By Mitchell Gilbert |

Sam Jam, the charity wheelchair basketball game, was played between the UP women and men’s basketball players, and the WheelBlazers, an actual wheelchair basketball team based in Portland. The event is hosted by Sam Bridgman, a UP alum who graduated last year.

Bridgman started the event two years ago with the hope to raise money to find a cure for a disease known as Friedreich's ataxia, a neurological disease he was diagnosed with at the age of 15.

This was the third year of Sam Jam and was another rousing success, with a large turnout from both UP students and the Portland community. Though the student-athletes didn’t stand much of a chance on the court against the practiced WheelBlazers, there were smiles and jokes on the court throughout the game.

During Bridgman’s halftime speech he said, “To be fighting a disease like Friederich’s ataxia where there is no treatment, no cure, and when I was diagnosed there was no hope. To have family around you like coach Scott, coach Kat, and all my friends that I made at UP, it creates hope and gives you hope that you can find a cure.”