By Danniel Parker
Kids in wheelchairs can’t dunk. But they don’t need to.
Starting as young as age 5, they can absolutely slaughter a group of blundering doctors in a game of basketball.
Kids of the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association, whose team name is The GODZA Blaze, are taking to the court to play against a gauntlet of six teams of doctors from the OU Medical Center and Physicians Clinic.
The game is Wheelchair Basketball and this is the third annual GODSA benefit tournament. A referee will blow the first whistle at 5:30pm on June 9 at the University Health Club at 1000 N. Lincoln.
“Last year we raised $620 after all the expenses,” said April Sandefer, spokesperson for OU Medical Services.
“Last year we had 50 spectators, this year we hope to have more,” Sandefer said.
She said she was worried about the team getting too bumped and bruised during the event. She wasn’t worried about the kids’ safety, but rather, the doctors.
Dominic Frimberger is a rare breed, a German doctor with a good sense of humor and a voice like Werner Herzog.
He’s responsible for organizing the self-deprecating fundraiser, which will feature cheerleading from the Thunder Girls, and end with the doctor’s face getting covered in whipped topping during the pie-throwing competition.
Frimberger said the doctor’s chances of winning are so slim, that a trophy will be awarded to the team that loses to the disabled children by the smallest margin of points.
“We’ll be sitting in wheelchairs to compete on their level,” said Frimberger. “The kids love it because they always beat us. They are used to playing in wheelchairs. We are not. “
“We have never beaten the kids. We try to give them no mercy, but we really don’t have a chance,” Frimberger said.
“We want to win and beat these kids, but it’s so difficult to throw the basketball from a wheelchair if you aren’t used to it. You have to dribble as well in a wheelchair which is impossible,” he said.
He said there are six teams playing, all expecting to lose horribly. The anesthesiologists, orthopedics, neural surgeons, urologist and the administrative executives, including the chief executive officer, and all of these highly trained professionals will likely be hammered on the scoreboard.
180 Medical is a business that distributes catheters to hospitals in Oklahoma. Frimberger said since their CEO is paraplegic and accustomed to being in a wheelchair, they have the best chance to finally win and end a losing streak that’s almost as long as the Washington General versus the Harlem Globetrotters.
“Some of these doctors even cheat,” said GODSA Recreational Therapist Margaret Kierl, who coaches the Blaze.
“They don’t move up and down the court, they stay and camp near one of the two baskets because they can’t move around much. And they still lose. It’s funny and it’s fun to watch,” Kriel said.
Money raised from the charity event will fund GODSA’s athletic and recreational exercise programs like water skiing, track and field, swimming, and chair exercise, she said.
For the past three years the Blaze placed 3rd, 5th, and 6th at the National Wheelchair Basketball tournament against the 49 other state teams. If the money is raised for it, three of the Blaze’s players will be able to attend the Oklahoma Ciy Thunder Basketball Training Camp this year.
“Hopefully there will be enough donations to also pay for the trip for three disabled Oklahoma children to compete in the National Track and Field Championships this year as well,” Kierl said.
She said donations are needed for GODSA, because since these kids are physically disabled and not mentally disabled, there is no government organization to help take care of it. The sports and activities that GODSA offers are not covered under the umbrella of federal funding like the Special Olympics.
Competitive joking aside, Dr. Frimberger said at the heart of this event, he loves helping these disabled children by getting them moving.
“Being healthy and losing weight is hard to do from a wheelchair, but one of our kids last year lost 40 pounds from sports, exercise and diet,” Frimberger said.
“These sports mean a lot to these kids. You can see their faces just light up,” he said.
Parent of a disabled child interested in their children becoming active in GODSA athletics can visit www.godsa.org for more information. Children can participate for $10 per sport.