MONTREAL – ParaTough Cup fuelled by Petro-Canada™, the primary fundraiser of the Paralympic Foundation of Canada, made its return to Montreal last Thursday after a three-year absence and had its biggest day yet in the city – raising a record $120,000 for people with a disability to participate in sport at all levels.
The event attracted a sellout 16 teams from 10 organizations. Each team, which committed at least $5,000 to enter, battled for the ParaTough Cup title by competing in three Para sports: sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and Para ice hockey. Additional points were awarded for fundraising.
“This will have a huge impact on Para sport in Canada,” said Dean Brokop, director of the Paralympic Foundation of Canada. “It’s a heart-warming moment for us to have a sold-out event with this incredible support through incredible fundraising.”
At the end of a three-hour sportsfest at the Tomlinson Fieldhouse at McGill University, the #3 team from Fasken took the title, amassing 112 points. Fasken #4 was second at 102 and McGill St Laurent was third at 98. Pfizer Canada also entered four teams while the other participants were Petro-Canada, Toyota, Bell, RBC, Canadian Tire, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Groupe Mach.
Pfizer Canada, the CPC’s longest standing corporate partner, kicked off the day in grand fashion announcing it has renewed its partnership with CPC through 2025.
“This is my fourth participation at the Montreal event and every year it’s bigger, better and more fun,” said François Brais, a lawyer for the winning Fasken team. “We are pleased to contribute to Paralympic sport and it’s also fun to have Paralympians on site to hear their messages.”
In fact, 10 Para sport athletes were onsite for the event. They told their stories during fireside chats and also coached teams at the various sport stations. On hand were Paralympians Alexandre Dupont (wheelchair racing), David Eng (wheelchair basketball), Bruno Haché (goalball), Aurélie Rivard (Para swimming), Frédérique Turgeon (Para alpine skiing), Tony Walby (Para judo), and Karolina Wisniewska (Para alpine skiing).
Trailblazer Mélanie Labelle, the only woman on the national wheelchair rugby team, and wheelchair basketball prospect Lionel Tamoki were also on hand. Wheelchair fencer Camille Chai was the day’s emcee.
The athletes say these funds are crucial to develop future Paralympians.
“What’s expensive in particular is the before,” said Rivard, a 10-time Paralympic Games medallist. “The steps to get to the national team like the competitions, the travelling was a lot of money for my parents. We’re young, we don’t have funding, don’t have sponsors yet, and there’s no guarantee it’s going to work out in the end.”
As a national team athlete, Rivard says she’s been more fortunate with the support from Swimming Canada and Sport Canada than some athletes in other sports.
“There are athletes that have to work, go to school, and train,” she said. “And to be committed to a sport already takes 90 percent of their time. I don’t even understand how they do it, but they do and that’s very impressive.”
Since its inception in 2017, the ParaTough Cup event series has raised more than $1 million for Para sport in Canada. This was the fourth time Montreal has hosted ParaTough Cup but the first since 2019 due to the pandemic.
The next ParaTough Cup is set for February 9, 2023, in Calgary then it goes to Toronto on March 22, 2023. Toronto holds the overall record for most raised at a single event, with $132,000 at its last edition in early March 2020.