On Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, 16 teams from leading Canadian businesses assembled at the University of Toronto to compete and participate in the inaugural ParaTough Cup – Toronto. Each team participated in six different sport challenges to test their athleticism and fitness with the goal of becoming the first-ever ParaTough Cup champions.
The event was an overwhelming success with more than $102,000 raised to support future Paralympic champions.
Proceeds will go towards the Paralympic Foundation of Canada’s goal of ensuring that the programs, equipment and people are in place to propel more Canadians with a disability all the way from the playground to the Paralympic podium.
“Corporate Canada got a glimpse of how tough it is to be a Paralympian,” said retired Paralympic swimmer Andrew Haley, who was at the event coaching participants. “They saw and felt why our athletes have to work so hard to make it to the top.”
Participants were joined and encouraged by a number of Canadian Paralympians and national team members during the event.
Paralympic veteran Cindy Ouellet was the honorary chair of the ParaTough Cup and is a member of the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team. She helped to push participants to their limits at the decline push-up and chin-up station and showed her phenomenal strength in these exercises.
Other national team athletes involved were:
- Wheelchair basketball players Erica Gavel and Melanie Hawtin who helped participants shoot three-pointers and dribble around opponents at the wheelchair basketball station.
- Sitting volleyball players Chantal Beauchesne and Andrew Tucker who showed participants how to maneuver and serve aces at the sitting volleyball station.
- Para athletics runner Marissa Papaconstantinou, who helped out at the athletics station, where participants competed in a guided run as well as a wheelchair sprint challenge.
- Kevin Rempel, a former member of Canada’s National Sledge Team, who gave pointers to participants in his sport as they tried to score points by hitting targets in the net.
“It means so much for the athletes to see corporate Canada come to an event like this,” said Hawtin. “We all want to see these sports grow and to see this it gives so much hope for the future. It’s amazing.”
Team Petro Canada 1 was the winner of the inaugural ParaTough Cup - Toronto. In second place was the team from the Toronto Blue Jays organization and in third was the team from Sportsnet. A special mention goes out to the team from the Hudson’s Bay Company for coming out on top of the fundraising competition.
Benoit Huot, a 20-time Paralympic Games medallist in swimming, was the coach of the Canadian Tire team.
“It’s really important what the Paralympic Foundation is doing,” said Huot. “We are raising funds for the next generation and who knows maybe we will find another athlete who can win 20 medals for our country. This is an amazing day.
“It’s a first and won’t be the last.”
CBC’s Scott Russell was the award ceremony MC and hosted the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Facebook coverage. To view the video, visit https://www.facebook.com/CDNParalympics