BY MELANIE BUCK –
Dalton Lane, of Acorn High School, has had another dream come true and this time, it all went down on a basketball court. Dalton who is completely blind, deaf in one ear, but amazingly has perfect pitch, fulfilled one dream in December when he marched in a marching band playing the Sousaphone, but he never dreamed his feet would hit the hardwood of a basketball court during a game. “It was a huge experience,” said Dalton. “I want to thank the Acorn and Oden coaching staff, they played a big role in all of this.”
And indeed, the role they played would give Dalton memories that will last him forever. On Friday, February 3, Acorn and Oden, both schools under the Ouachita River School District, were set to play and had asked Dalton to join the team for the evening. Dalton explained that it all began when he was shooting some hoops just for fun. When he was younger, he would shoot at the outside courts that had chain nets. “The chain courts would make a big swooshing sound when I made a shot,” he smiled, “Since then, I came to have a deep love for basketball.”
He said that a few days ago, he was in the gym shooting around and “Coach Chris Ledbetter saw me and said I needed to be on the team, that I shot better than his seniors do. That Friday night, there I was. I made my debut.”
Coach Ledbetter said he has known Dalton his entire life, with both of them being from Oden. “I’ve known him since he was born and I’ve watched him grow up. I had him in my P.E. class and he’s always shooting and we rebound for him. One day, Dalton mentioned that he wondered what it would feel like to be in a ball game.”
Coach Ledbetter took that to heart and began putting things in motion. He got approval from Dalton’s mom. “I mentioned it to Dalton and he was so excited,” said Ledbetter.
At Friday night’s game between Acorn and Oden, the two teams battled it out for three quarters and dedicated the fourth solely to Dalton. “It was a wonderful experience. I wasn’t expecting to have the whole fourth quarter to myself. When I got the ball, then I knew this was turning out to be an awesome experience.” When the fourth quarter began, Dalton was led to the free throw line, flanked by fellow Tigers who passed him the ball as players from both teams lined up to rebound. Dalton remembers vividly, “The crowd went ballistic. The atmosphere was electric. Then, you could hear a pin drop. There was no noise whatsoever. One shot, the ball bounced around and when it fell in, the whole gym just went electric.” In all, Dalton made 15 shots.
Coach Ledbetter said without Oden’s cooperation, Dalton’s dream would not have been possible. “I have to also give credit to Coach Saylors at Oden. I asked him about it and he said ‘you betcha, we’ll rebound for him.’ It was great. That’s what basketball is all about, when you can do something like that for someone. It puts it all into perspective that it’s not all about winning and losing, there’s more to it.”
Dalton’s dream come true is an inspiration to many. He said, “It just shows you that people with disabilities can make a big difference. Me being blind and visually impaired, that’s not going to stop me from achieving my dreams. I may go through trials, but that’s not going to make me give up.”