Morgan’s Wonderland is more than just a theme park. In addition to offering a unique theme-park experience free of barriers, we also offer many programs including STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports), which serves individuals with physical disabilities. In 2019, STRAPS served more than 2,600 individuals through inclusion clinics and programming.
True to San Antonio form, approximately 40% of all participants are military veterans.
Brooke Matula, Recreational Therapy Director for Morgan’s Wonderland, has been directing the STRAPS program since 2015. “Since I started STRAPS, I’ve seen our athletes grow both physically and emotionally, and a lot of their progress is owed to our dedicated coaches, like [Nakia] Merritte.”
In 2007, Sergeant Merritte suffered multiple injuries from an IED bomb during a tour in Iraq.
Upon returning to the United States, Merritte was sent to BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center) in San Antonio for treatment. In the early stages of his recovery, he found himself questioning his ability to adapt to his new reality and how using a wheelchair would impact his daily life.
As a Wounded Warrior at BAMC Merritte was introduced to the world of adaptive sports. Initially hesitant to participate, he set aside his doubts and quickly discovered a newfound love for wheelchair basketball.
A year later, Sergeant Merritte found himself at Morgan’s Wonderland surrounded by young athletes fondly calling him “Coach Merritte,” giving him a new sense of purpose.
“As a Coach, I get to help kids see their potential…I get to see the power of exercising the body and mind,” Merritte proudly explains.
Coach Merritte currently leads the Junior Wheelchair Basketball team, the organization’s largest program, and participates as a member of the ParaSports San Antonio Spurs Adaptive Wheelchair Basketball team. “Everyone has something to teach and something to learn,” he says – in this instance, that “something” has been perseverance.
In 2019, Coach Merritte’s team brought home the gold after winning first place in the Southwest Conference Championship and qualified for the Junior National Wheelchair Basketball Association Nationals.
“[STRAPS] motivated me to be a better person and gave me meaning. I’d be lost without this program and the opportunity to participate in and coach adaptive sports.”
This holiday season, give the #BestGiftEver by giving our athletes and coaches the opportunity to gain independence, self-discipline, leadership skills and most of all, hope.