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Firefighters, Special Olympians teaming for basketball exhibition

Don Fennell   Oct-12-2018

Screen grab from Facebook


The Richmond Firefighters Association has a long history of extending helping hands. This weekend members welcome the opportunity to do so again.

In the first of what organizers hope becomes an annual event, 14 firefighters are confirmed to share the spotlight with 28 local Special Olympics athletes Sunday (Oct. 14) in the inaugural basketball exhibition at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

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Firefighters will play alongside Special Olympians in a series of full-court scrimmage games tipping off at 3 p.m. There will be four 20-minute games through 4:35 p.m., followed by photos and a wind-up celebration.

Firefighter Chris Vanderwel is heading up the organizing committee.

“The Richmond Firefighters Association’s idea to support the Richmond Special Olympics is (the result of) a collaborative conversation about investing in our community, athletics, and supporting athletes with intellectual disabilities,” explains Vanderwel. “Along with our Richmond Firefighters Charitable Society, our organization has supported Richmond Special Olympics in the past. This event is now another opportunity for us to engage with these inspirational athletes.”

The Richmond Firefighters Association is committed to serving its community, and greatly values respect and inclusion for all. Its sponsorship of this event allows free admission and participation for all Richmond Special Olympics athletes and their families.

“Our shared goal is to make this an inclusive, fun, family-oriented event,” says Vanderwel. “To make this event an annual success, we need to get the word out to the community to come and be a part of this amazing experience. We see this event growing by involving our community alongside the athletes and firefighters.”

Vanderwel says members of the Richmond Firefighters Association are thankful for the support from the Richmond Olympic Oval to use the space.

“Without support of great facilities like this, our events cannot happen,” he says. “And future corporate involvement is important to provide opportunities and events for Richmond Special Olympics athletes.”

“This will be an awesome event with athletes and their families cheering on from the stands,” promises Vanderwel.


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