DANIELLE ORSILLO'S proudest moment was watching her brother Mark, who has Down syndrome, graduate from Las Plumas High in Oroville, Calif., five years ago. As Mark clutched his diploma, 4,000 people rose to their feet and tears welled in Danielle's eyes. "My parents allowed him to fail and succeed as much as they allowed the rest of [my brothers and sisters] to fail and succeed," says Danielle. "They're heroes for that."
Orsillo, 21, has followed their lead. The 5'9" junior guard at Arizona State, who has been sidelined this season by a bone bruise in her knee, has spent more than 150 hours over the last two years shooting hoops, cooking meals and playing video games with mentally disabled adults at a recreation center in Tempe. She's become close to Daniel Strelitz (second from right), who, like Mark, has Down syndrome. Strelitz calls Danielle "my best friend."
While Mark is attending community college, Danielle is combining her two passions—basketball and helping others—through ASU's Leadership Through Action program. She's hoping to raise $2,000 to underwrite a free, on-campus basketball clinic for more than 300 mentally disabled adults. "A lot of people my age haven't been around people with disabilities, so they don't know how to act," says Orsillo, whose parents are pastors in Oroville. "But if you just act like yourself, they will love you."