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Duke student-athlete hosts basketball clinic in Milwaukee for those with disabilities

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MILWAUKEE -- A student-athlete from Duke University is spending his summer serving in a very noble way, and he's using basketball to do it.

There were smiles and laughs as dozens enjoyed an afternoon of basketball at the gym at Penfield Montessori Academy.

"Whoever comes to one of our clinics, they have a good time. We just want to teach the game of basketball to make sure people are having fun while they're playing. You know, no stress," said Brennan Besser.

Brennan Besser

Besser, a college basketball player at Duke, runs a basketball clinic for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"I love playing at Duke, and to be able to teach that to people who are just excited to get out here and are enthusiastic about just trying new things -- because it's not about whether they can really execute a spin move. It's about trying and giving it your all," said Besser.

"This is such a huge and great opportunity for them. It gives them the opportunity to one, be able to interact with each other, bring the community together, have a good time. Two, it's that reminder that it doesn't matter who we are, our size, our shape, our age. We all can enjoy activities like playing basketball or sports or anything like that," said Rebecca Michelson, Penfield Montessori Academy.

Joining Besser and getting the most out of the participants was his former Duke teammate and current Milwaukee Bucks' center Marshall Plumlee.

"He's the guy that really prides himself on making the people around him better. He's making his community better by calling attention to such a good cause like this, and I've benefited from having Brennan as a teammate and I'd like to think everyone in this room is benefiting from having Brennan as a teammate of sorts moving forward," said Plumlee.

It was part of Besser's months-long bike ride from Seattle to New York -- helping raise money and awareness for the community of people impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities -- called Walk on America.

"This is a call to confidence. Walk on through any adversity. You know, walk on in the face of all challenges. Keep pushing. Keep striving to be. Be better no matter what -- and then I am a walk on on the Duke men's basketball team. That's the secondary reason," said Besser.

The true inspiration for Walk on America came from someone who holds a special place in Besser's heart.

"My sister Jacqueline is 23, who has autism and is non-verbal. You know, we understand because of firsthand experience that this is a challenge on a day-to-day basis. The small things can seem like such big and monumental achievements. You know, just getting her shoes on. Or just saying something -- as simple as that -- but deeply close connection to the cause with Jacqueline and her disabilities, but it's been an honor. You know, the fact that people that even come to the clinics are taking their time to participate because we put it together. The fact that we received that support, it means the world," said Besser.

And it clearly meant the world to all the kids at Penfield, as their smiles proved.

"We have a rule with all of our clinics that everybody makes a shot before they leave, and what I hope is that this experience inspires them, you know, to really find that true confidence within and to keep that with them on a day-to-day basis," said Besser.

Besser's ride ends in New York on July 18. CLICK HERE for more information, or to make a donation to support his efforts.

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