Seventeen-year-old Juliana Hoogland, a blind basketball player, just inspired millions of people by perfectly sinking a shot with her incredible free throw. According to Faithpot, surrounded by 2,000 students, Juliana was shown respect as they sat in silence so that she could gauge the location of the net through listening to tapping in order to aim for the basket. However, the silence did not last long as the crowd erupted in cheer after her success.
A student at Zeeland Public Schools in Michigan, Juliana participates in the school’s zLinks program, which is a peer-to-peer support program engaging students in building a strong community focusing on the “unique talents and abilities that lie within all [students].” Dr. Brandi-Lyn Mendham, the Superintendent of Zeeland Public Schools, shared that they participate in the Special Olympics Unified Sports, which she refers to as a “point of pride” for her school district.
Juliana’s courage doing a free throw in front of thousands of her peers is inspiring to everyone. After taking her shot, Juliana shared that she hopes to “educate people that blind people are more than just blind.” Her wish is that the video of her will inspire others to “keep trying no matter what their challenges are.” Juliana’s success came after years of hard work trying to achieve “a perfect shot.” The Lead teacher for zLinks, Nate VandeGutche, explained the moment as “moving” and added that he could not be more “excited” for Juliana and her family.
In response to the respect Juliana received from the crowd, her mother Karen praised their sensitivity and support. She noted that both the silence and cheers were encouraging along with their expressed pride in Juliana’s accomplishment. With her dedication to working hard towards a goal, and achieving it, Juliana is an inspiration to all who have set goals in their lives and are now even more motivated to achieve them.