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A Special Thank You to Jon Burford for His Service in Volunteer Leadership

By NWBA, 09/12/23, 1:00PM CDT


The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) has been fortunate over the years to have very impactful contributing members to the organization. Those who have gone the extra mile in helping create change and bolster the successes of the longest standing and largest disabled sports organization in the world. You cannot tell the story of the NWBA without mentioning one of those many contributing members, Jon Burford. 

Burford’s dedication and passion for the NWBA and wheelchair basketball is very evident. In 2009, he joined the organization’s Judicial Committee, a role he is still a part of today. In 2012, he was appointed the Commissioner of the Intercollegiate Division, a role he went on to serve for 11 years. During his tenure, Burford helped develop the division while expanding the number of programs and the rules implemented by the division. Burford always served in his role providing quality service to members with the upmost integrity.  

Burford became an approbated national official with the NWBA in 1993, making the start of his long-standing involvement with the sport and the organization. As an official, Burford refereed across many of the NWBA’s National Championship Tournaments, becoming a well-known figure across the organization’s domestic league. 
Burford’s officiating talents allowed him to become a licensed international official with the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) in 1997. Burford has attended over 25 IWBF endorsed events, highlighted by five Paralympic Games (2000, Sydney; 2004, Athens; 2008, Beijing; 2012, London; 2016, Rio; 2020, Tokyo), five Parapan American Games (2007, Rio; 2011 Guadalajara; 2015, Toronto; 2019 Lima; 2023, Santiago) and four World Championships (2002, Kitakyushu; 2010, Birmingham; 2014, Incheon; 2018, Hamburg). Burford has served in different capacities as an International Technical Official at these events, including Chief Referee Supervisor, Referee Supervisor and Referee. Burford also serves on the IWBF Americas Executive Council as North America Region Vice President. 

Burford’s impact on the NWBA and wheelchair basketball has not gone unnoticed, and the organization thanks Jon for his hard work and dedication.  

“I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with Jon these last several years.  Being a collegiate commissioner is not always easy and it is a sometimes-thankless job, but Jon handled it all so gracefully.  He was the consummate gentleman in all circumstances, and I believe I speak for most of the division in saying that he was always prepared, professional and above all fair in his decisions and leadership.  Jon really cared about the sport, especially the student athletes, and he made a real and positive difference for collegiate wheelchair basketball.” – Dr. Brent Hardin (Director, Adaptive Athletics at the University of Alabama) 
"I have known Jon for over 30 years. Jon started out officiating in the NWBA and immediately it was recognized by everyone that Jon was dedicated, hardworking, ethical, and fair.  This expectation he lived on the court and off the court too. After people in the NWBA recognized these qualities, they pursued Jon to be involved at a higher administrative level. Jon now continues to be involved in wheelchair basketball at the highest level.  He is a true advocate for the sport." – Michael Woodward (Chair of the NWBA Rules Committee & Director of Officials) 
“Jon’s commitment to success and professionalism was evident in how he handled all his responsibilities as Intercollegiate Division Commissioner and as a referee.  The NWBA, IWBF, and wheelchair basketball is thriving and growing because of dedicated and passionate individuals like Jon.” – Jeremy “Opie'' Lade (2012 Paralympian & decorated NWBA athlete/coach) 

"Jon is selfless. A wonderful leader." – Josie Johnson (former Intercollegiate Division Vice President)