A SPORTING organisation for people with disabilities in Cork has put out an SOS call to the business and sporting community for support ahead of International Disability Day next month.
Rebel Wheelers, who cater for more than 70 athletes, say support is essential for the group to meet growing demand for services.
The group, which has the reigning national wheelchair basketball and rugby champions among its athletes, says corporate support and sporting figureheads in Cork are needed to take the club to the next level.
“Wheelchair basketball chairs start at €1,500 each and wheelchair rugby chairs start at €3,500 each. Proper fitting equipment is essential,” Rebel Wheelers secretary Orla O’Brien said.
“Our basketballers and rugby players are national champions. Our children now have older heroes of their own to emulate. We want those children to surpass the feats of those older role models. Proper equipment will allow that to happen, with the help of the business community in Cork,” she added.
The organisation is having its annual fundraising day, Roll With Rebel Wheelers, at Neptune Stadium on Sunday, December 1 to coincide with International Disability Day on December 3.
Some 20 teams from Cork companies and community groups will battle it out on the court to raise funds for equipment.
The organisation is hoping some sporting heroes in Cork will take part in the day’s competitions.
“Imagine the boost it would give our athletes to see hurlers, camogie stars, footballers, soccer players and boxers participate in their own sport of wheelchair basketball?
"You couldn’t put a price on that. It would also give legitimacy to what we are trying to do for those with physical disabilities, which is to let them know there should be no barriers to enjoying sport,” Dermot Hurley, Chair of Rebel Wheelers said.
Little Island-based energy business Sea Box Group has stepped up as the main sponsor for the Neptune Stadium event, which has been described as a godsend for Rebel Wheelers.
Managing director of Sea Box Group, Patrick Hogan said it was one of the best organisations for inclusion he had encountered.
“The confidence and belief these athletes have received is marvellous, and the fact that they are Irish champions in two codes tells its own story. They are role models to a whole generation, while the commitment of parents in ensuring their children can participate in sport is truly inspiring. It is a pleasure for the Sea Box Energy Group be able to support Rebel Wheelers,” he said.
Rebel Wheelers were founded in 2008 by five families who were frustrated at the lack of opportunity for their children to get involved in sport. Now 11 years later, it provides people with a physical disability from the age of 5 through to adulthood the opportunity to participate in sport.