Meet Chris Dullanty, a 38-year-old Spokane native who has, since 1995, played in Hoopfest every year (except 1997). He began playing in the Special Olympics Unified division, but in 2008 switched to playing in the recreational adult division.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 18 months old” said Dullanty. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder (neurological disorder) in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness.¹ Epilepsy is a relatively common condition, affecting 0.5% to 1% of the population. In the United States, about 2.5 million people have epilepsy and about 9% of Americans will have at least one seizure in their lifetimes.²
“I had a surgery in April of 1997 and am now able to treat my condition with medication.” The surgery caused him to miss his first and only Hoopfest in the past 20 years.
In 1995, Dullanty made his Hoopfest debut. “Hoopfest had been going on for 5 years when one of my friends contacted me and asked me to join his Special Olympics Unified division team.”
“One of my favorite moments was in my first year in my very first game,” Dullanty revisits. “I have never been a very good outside shooter, but in that game I was able to hit three or four outside shots. I will never forget it.”
Since that game, Dullanty developed a love of Hoopfest that has carried on for over two decades.
Dullanty has won the Special Olympics Unified division four times and is still seeking his first recreational adult division championship. He also attends many of the Hoopfest weekend events including the Slam Dunk contest and Championship game on Nike Center Court almost every year.
“The number one thing that makes Hoopfest special to me is that I get to play my favorite sport in my home city.”
Dullanty thinks that everyone should experience Hoopfest at least once. “Even if you are from out of town, it’s completely worth it. It is the largest 3-on-3 tournament in the world!” And he’s right. With around 7,000 teams, 3,000 volunteers and 225,000 fans, Hoopfest is in a class of its own.
If you need even more proof of Dullanty’s enthusiasm for Hoopfest, you can find it in his answer to a simple question about his celebrity crush, Drew Barrymore. Dullanty is a life long fan of Barrymore and can even name every movie that she has been in and the year it was released.
“I am completely in love with Drew Barrymore, and I would still choose Hoopfest over her!”
To learn more about Spokane Hoopfest’s Special Olympics Unified division visit www.spokanehoopfest.net.