CALGARY – ParaTough Cup made its debut in Calgary on Tuesday with Hudson’s Bay Company hoisting the trophy as the event’s champion but most importantly contributing to the $77,000 that was raised by the participants.
Twelve teams of organizations from Calgary competed in six different Paralympic-inspired challenges: wheelchair racing, a guided run, Para ice hockey, sitting volleyball, wheelchair curling, and wheelchair basketball. All teams had to raise at least $5,000 to enter, and additional points towards winning the competition were available for those that raised additional funds.
Several Para athletes, including Paralympic Games medallists, were on hand. They were: Chad Jassman (wheelchair basketball) as co-emcee, Para cyclist Michael Sametz, Para swimmers Tammy Cunnington and Morgan Bird, javelin thrower Alister McQueen, sitting volleyball player Jesse Ward, Para ice hockey player Cody Dolan, Para alpine skiers Kirk Schornstein and Jason Beaman, and Para ice hockey national team head coach Ken Babey, who all shared their stories with participants and helped out at the stations.
'’It was fun to see everyone learn so much about Paralympic sport,’’ said Rio 2016 Paralympian Cunnington. ‘’It’s important for me to come out to an event like this and keep spreading the word, so people can see what the Paralympics are all about. I want to help to keep promoting the movement for the next generation.’’
In addition to taking home the trophy, HBC also was the top fundraising team, led by Kris Bortnick. Keyera, one of the largest midstream oil and gas operators in Canada, took second spot and was also runner-up in the fundraising department.
‘’This was a great awareness program for the participants,’’ said Shannon MacNaughton of Keyera. ‘’We came here with limited knowledge of Paralympic sport so it was great to provide this support to our Para athletes as they prepare for the 2020 Games.’’
Michael Friesen of Petro-Canada admits he has a new perspective on Para sport.
'’We do various fundraisers but this was really special, the stories are so inspiring’’ said Friesen. ‘’I have phenomenal respect for the Para athletes. To overcome everything they went through, and do all this, at that level. Astounding.’’
Through events this season in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, ParaTough Cup has raised approximately $333K for the development and growth of Paralympic sport across the country.
‘’It was a great day,’’ said Dolan, a new member of the Para ice hockey national team. "It grows our sports and I think people realize how challenging it is and that’s the word we need to get out right now.’’
For more information about ParaTough Cup, please visit Paraympic.ca/paratough-cup.