Campers, parents, staff and volunteers on Friday afternoon celebrated the conclusion to another successful Mary Free Bed Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp.
The free annual weeklong event, hosted at Grand Valley State University, offers kids of all ability levels and ages the opportunity to participate in 10 adaptive sports, ranging from kayaking and disc golf, to sled hockey and tennis.
Fifty campers participated in this year’s event, with help from 15 instructors, 44 volunteers and numerous Mary Free Bed staff and interns.
Long-time camper Natalie Wright, 16, says the camp and adaptive sports offer “a new hope, in a way.”
Natalie — who was paralyzed in an accident when she was 5 years old — says kids and teens like her have few visible role models in mainstream sports culture.
“Able-bodied sports are all over the place,” Natalie says.
Wheelchair Sports Camp and adaptive sports give Natalie and her peers the avenues to pursue success in recreational and/or competitive sports. Playing as a small forward for Mary Free Bed’s Junior Pacers basketball team, Natalie enjoys the challenge and camaraderie that come with being part of a competitive team and looks forward to taking her skills to the next level.
She says the camp and adaptive sports allow young people with disabilities to see that “one day you could be that person on TV.”
Whether a camper is interested in pursuing a higher level of competition or simply seeking a fun physical outlet, Wheelchair Sports Camp is a chance to spend time with peers who face similar challenges and to forge lifelong friendships. Learn more about adaptive sports opportunities by calling Mary Free Bed Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports at 616.840.8356 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wheelchair Sports Camp is made possible with support from donors including (but not limited to) Airway Oxygen, Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, CareLinc, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital Guild, Mobility Sports, Multi Serve, Per4max, Saladin Shriners and West Michigan Spina Bifida Organization.