By David Highfield

SAXONBURG (KDKA) — Monday was a special night for a high school basketball player in Butler County.

Kali Alter, 19, did something she always wanted to do, and her family and teammates were right there, cheering her on.

Kali has Down syndrome, but her parents have never spent time telling her what she can’t do. Instead, they’ve encouraged her to follow her dreams.

She’s been involved with basketball since the fourth grade.

For the past three years, she was the manager of the Knoch High School girls’ varsity team. This year, she tried out and became a player.

“Basketball means a lot to me,” said Alter. “I love it.”

It’s so much more than her parents were first told was even possible.

“Whenever she was born, the doctors told my husband and I that she may never walk or talk,” said her mom, Brenda Alter. “She’s been my hero ever since day one. She’s proven a lot of people wrong.”

She also has a group of friends who admire and support her.

“She plays really hard,” said teammate, Kayla Grafton. “She tries to do everything that she can.”

Fellow teammate Gabby Fennell said: “She brings a lot of spirit to the team. I know when she’s around, we’re a lot happier.”

“She scored her first basket in the last game week,” said Coach Chris Andreassi. “The whole team was excited for her. The whole bench jumped.”

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And Kali learned that on Senior Night, Monday night, she would start in the game for the very first time.

First, she and other senior players were honored. She was presented with flowers, and the crowd cheered with her parents at her side.

“I’m so proud of her,” said Brenda.

Then, it was time to hit the court. While Kali didn’t score, she came close, and in the end, making a basket didn’t matter because this was a night where her dream had already come true.

In addition to basketball, Kali has been involved with Special Olympics and plays hockey and volleyball.

She plans to go to Slippery Rock to study music.

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