Mary Free Bed Invitational draws 100 National Wheelchair Basketball Association athletes

basketball-invitational-2016Grand Rapids, Mich. – More than 100 wheelchair basketball athletes from across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Ontario, Canada will compete Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 in the Mary Free Bed Invitational. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association tournament will be held at the universally designed Mary Free Bed YMCA, which is marking its first anniversary.

Ten teams are registered to compete, including DI, DII, DIII and Women’s divisions – three more than in Mary Free Bed’s 2015 inaugural tournament. Three teams are members of Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports Program, one of the largest such programs in the country. The Mary Free Bed Pacers is a men’s DI team that competes nationwide, while the Rollin Drive is a DIII co-ed team that travels regionally to compete. The new Mary Free Bed Women’s Team is the 10th team to join the NWBA roster.

“The sport wheelchairs these athletes use allow them to compete in the game of basketball at a high-level, combining play of the game with operation of their chair in athletic harmony,” said tournament director Christy VanHaver. “The action is fast-paced and fun to watch.”

The new Mary Free Bed All Stars Adaptive Cheerleading team also will be there to cheer on the athletes.

Play runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. The venue, at 5500 Burton St. SE, is a revolutionary facility that offers fully accessible spaces and amenities. Tournament athletes and spectators are invited to enjoy cake on Saturday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its opening.

For more information, email VanHaver at

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