Creighton basketball's abilities camp helps kids with disabilities shine on court

The camp has grown from 30 kids in the first year to 90 now.
Posted at 3:52 PM, Jun 08, 2024

OMAHA (KMTV) — Creighton basketball hosted its sixth annual abilities camp for kids with disabilities Friday at D.J. Sokol Arena, the Championship Center and The Ruth.

  • First-time camper Jackson McLaughlin has autism and is nonverbal; he came with his grandfather.
  • While Creighton basketball players ran the stations, campers were paired with CU physical therapy students to help them along.


I’m Kelsey Mannix at D.J. Sokol Arena where Creighton basketball hosted its sixth annual abilities camp for kids with disabilities.

In their first year they had about 30 campers, and now they’re up to 90 total participants.

And of course the impact of this opportunity felt not only by the kids, but also their families.

An uplifting moment for 12-year-old Jackson McLaughlin.

"He hasn’t really said a whole lot since he was born," his grandfather, Kelly Shannon, said.

Jackson has autism.

The World Health Organization says one in 100 kids are on the spectrum.

Jackson is also nonverbal.

"But he does understand," Shannon said. "He hears real well. He doesn’t talk much but he hears."

So when his family heard about the Creighton abilities camp, they signed Jackson up.

"You just don’t really know if there’s gonna be a place for him, and I just really worry about him a lot," Shannon said. "I think this helps him being around people."

"First abilities camp, it was awesome," Creighton guard Steven Ashworth said. "It’s what life’s all about. The relationships with people like this… and it’s just fun to put a smile on a kid’s face."

Along with Creighton basketball players, campers are paired up with CU physical therapy students.

Jackson's partner, Adrianna (Johnson), is a first-timer as well.

"Not a lot of people put on camps like this for other students," she said. "It’s super important to raise awareness and have these opportunities for them."

And Jackson's grandfather was right there to see it all.

"He’s sure fun to watch, and him and I spend a lot of time together," Shannon said. "I was taught how to run the camera this morning on my phone. I don’t use it much."

Both he and Jackson got their shots.

"Did you like to shoot today Jackson?"
Johnson asked. "Was that fun? Yeah?"

(Jackson nods)

"This is really just a blessing that they have stuff like this," Shannon said. "It’s just pretty darn special."

But the most important question...

"I will be back," Johnson said. "Jackson, are you coming back next year? You’re gonna do it again next year? Yeah?"