SportsTown Awards: For this athlete in Elmira, her biggest impact came off the field (2).jpg

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - This year at the 3rd annual SportsTown Awards, a girl from Elmira is being awarded for her pure generosity.

When you take a look at Millie Carpenter, who is a 3.95 GPA Student at Elmira High School, many people see an all-around athlete.

She's a state qualifier in track and field, and she's headed to Lane Community College as a heptathlete. Alone, these are great accomplishments, but they still are far from her greatest.

From a distance, it's just another basketball game, but up close, in person, it's something magical.

"It's transformed all of our lives, I think in a great way," said Carpenter. "Not only has it taught me so much, but it has taught them that they really are capable of anything."

Carpenter works with the Unified Basketball team, a team that unites students with and without intellectual disabilities. With an assist from other leadership students, Carpenter took on the task of recruiting fellow classmates to join the team.

"We would go to practice and everybody was so excited," said Carpenter. "You would have kids running around and shooting a basketball that have never played basketball before. And they were in the zone, seeing that was a good first step."

It was time for their first game in the auxiliary gym, scheduled at the same time as the varsity basketball game. Nobody knew who was going to show up. What came was surprising.

"There's five, six rows of bleachers and kids were lining up along the hallways," said Carpenter. "They were all cheering them on and that's something the kids have never felt before. We cried, it was awesome."

The team, which united as more of a family, took 2nd place at State this past season, and won the sportsmanship award.

Forever friendships were formed, especially between Millie and Xander. They were classmates, prom dates and thanks to Unified Basketball, teammates.

"I'm going to cherish the time I spent on that team for the rest of my life, and I knew every other person on that team will too," said Carpenter.

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