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$70,000 raised in Chair Aware basketball tournament

Basketball is a tough sport – but it’s even more difficult playing on wheels.

That’s what the more than 100 participants realized in Montreal’s 2nd annual Chair Aware tournament on May 14.

Global Montreal supporter Mark Nixon, who plays for the Gladiators wheelchair basketball team, said it was a fun event to watch.

(Nixon took in the match from the sidelines, since he’s nursing a shoulder injury.)

“They had a good laugh,” he said of the Global team. “They were unable to reach the net a lot a lot of the time, since, it’s a lot different shooting from a seating position. But, it was a good time.”

One team that managed to pull it together was “the Dream Team”, brought together by former Team Canada player turned coach Trevor Williams.

Williams’ talented squad is usually fast on their feet – but on Saturday, that wasn’t an option.

“Once you sit in that wheelchair, everyone’s considered equal, there’s no height advantage, there’s no speed advantage,” the coach said.

Williams is founder of the Trevor Williams Kids Foundation.

It’s an academy that helps kids focus on athletics, education and community involvement. (Participants are mostly able-bodied kids).

“It’s all about giving back, you have to know how to give back and get involved with the community,” he said.

Kyle Desmarais used to participate in Williams’ summer camp.

He received a scholarship for a two-year program at a Connecticut State University.

He’s now a star player at Concordia University – but hasn’t forgotten his roots or the values instilled in him by Williams.

“We’ve had good role models like Trevor Williams and Wayne Yearwood, and we’d just like to follow in their example of giving back to the community as they gave back to us,” Desmarais said.

Global Montreal and the nine other teams in Saturday’s event helped raise $70,000.

The money will go to Montreal’s Action Centre, a bilingual organization that provides support services for disabled adults.

“[The tournament] makes them feel normalized,” said the Action Centre’s Joanne Heward. “They get to have really great interaction and share experiences with the people trying out what it’s like to be in an adaptive situation.”

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