Basketball tournament to benefit the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association 

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Like the Washington Generals facing the Harlem Globetrotters, teams of local doctors hope this is their year to finally win.

OU Medicine will host the 7th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 9 at Oklahoma City University’s Freede Wellness Center, 2501 N. Blackwelder Ave. Admission is free, and the event benefits the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association (GODSA), a nonprofit that offers recreational and competitive adaptive sports programming to people with physical disabilities.

Teams from several OU Medicine departments — including administration, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, operating room, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, surgery and urology — and a team from 180 Medical, a medical supply company, will compete in 10-minute exhibition basketball games against youth teams comprised of GODSA wheelchair athletes.

All participants will compete in wheelchairs.

“Every year, they kick our booty,” said Dr. Dominic Frimberger, professor of pediatric urology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center who practices at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center.

A GODSA board member and one of the tournament’s founders, Frimberger said the event has grown to become GODSA’s biggest annual fundraiser. Last year, it netted $20,000, which went to buy equipment and allow teams to travel for competition. The cost of a court wheelchair can run $4,500 or more.

“It’s not fair that these kids cannot play sports just because they have a disability. All they need is adaptive equipment,” Frimberger said. “It’s like if you wanted to run but had no shoes.”

When he sees physically disabled patients for the first time, their confidence is often low and they don’t talk much. After getting involved in adaptive sports, the children tend to open up.

“They come in and chat with everybody. They’ll high-five you,” he said. “They talk with other kids and realize there’s a lot of other people like them.”

This year’s tournament features a silent auction, a bake sale and other activities. Frimberger’s wife, local artist Joan Frimberger, will auction off a commission for a pet portrait. The Oklahoma City Thunder Storm Chasers and Thunder Drummers are also scheduled to attend.

Trailblazers

GODSA wheelchair basketball coach Margaret Kierl said adaptive sports helps physically disabled children stay active and gives their parents confidence.

“It’s a life lesson for these kids,” she said.

The Oklahoma Blaze wheelchair basketball team competes in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s Southwest Conference. They travel all over the country to compete, said Kierl, who is also a therapeutic recreation manager at Valir Rehabilitation Hospital.

GODSA also offers adaptive track and field, water sports and swimming. Some high-level athletes — including track and field athlete Alexa Halko, who moved from Oklahoma to Virginia last year and will compete at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro — have gone on to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic team.

Currently, GODSA runs its youth and adult programming out of facilities across Oklahoma City. Kierl said her dream is to build a dedicated center to house all its sports and art programs. The organization also works with local schools to identify new participants.

For more information about the program, call 553-1377 or visit godsa.org.


Print headline: Healthy competition, OU Medicine hosts the 7th Annual Wheelchair Basketball Tournament to benefit the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association.

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