Basketball jacket worn by Ray Werner as a member of the Jersey Wheelers the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Champions, 1954. As captain of the Jersey Wheelers, Ray Werner was a starting forward and leading scorer. Under Werner’s leadership, the Wheelers won the sixth annual National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, which earned him this jacket. The slogan of the tournament was “Ability Not Disability Counts!”
Ray Werner was paralyzed below the waist during his World War II service on Guadalcanal in July of 1942. He was sent to a rehabilitation hospital, where sports were used in his treatment. Werner, a gifted athlete in high school, was a perfect candidate for a new series of rehabilitation programs initiated by the federal government. Wheelchair basketball was the first sport included in these programs, and Werner excelled becoming a pioneer of the sport. He competed in the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960 and continued to help disabled veterans, opening a wheelchair repair shop and installing hand controls in cars for drivers with paraplegia.