TULSA, OK (KJRH) — As floodwaters begin to recede, neighbors are starting to figure out just what they lost, and what was saved as they return to their normal routines. A north Tulsa rec center's floor was destroyed, and inside its storage areas, tens of thousands of dollars in damage was done to performance wheelchairs used for wheelchair basketball.
The Rollin' Roustabouts consider O'brien Park Rec Center home, but after nearly two feet of water filled the gym from near-record flooding, they don't know when they'll be able to return.
It’s a small team made up of about 10 players, using wheelchairs that cost up to $5,000 apiece. Some have only been playing wheelchair basketball for a couple years - others for decades. It’s a sport that brings people together in a unique way; some are born with disabilities, and they’ve been in a wheelchair most of their lives. Others, one day, found themselves unable to walk; and some are able to walk, but aren’t able to play sports on their feet anymore.
Players like Wesley Kimble found a new frame of life thanks to the sport. He was injured a couple years ago playing football, and after years of playing sports found out he might not be able to walk again. Wheelchair basketball gave him his competitive spirit back, and reasons like those are why the team says Monday and Thursday practices at O’brien are important to them, and why everyone on the team considers it home.
"We are being positive about it," Kimble said. "Even if it is a negative situation, it’s going to bring us closer together and we’re bonding. So we are going to do whatever we need to get the chairs back.”
Players have to go through a grant process just to get the money to get one of those chairs. That process can take months or even years, let alone time for an evaluation to get a chair.
Because the team might not be able to get the grants needed to repair and replace chairs for some of the teammates, team leaders are considering fundraisers and finding ways to gather donations. If you would like to donate or help set up a fundraiser, you can reach out to team leaders at DJSutterfield.firstname.lastname@example.org, or Smurflrs@yahoo.com.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.