Partners for Parks is helping to keep one of North Carolina’s championship basketball teams rolling into 2019. 

Partners for Parks Co-founder and Vice President Doug Youngblood and Treasurer Al Brown presented a Scholarship Grant of $2,500 to Abilities Unlimited of the Carolinas during the Rollin’ Hornets Hoopfest Shoot-A-Thon in December. Abilities Unlimited was the Partners for Parks “Non-Profit Award Winner” in 2017.

The mission of Abilities Unlimited and Rollin’ Hornets is to promote independence for both children and adults with physical disabilities and provide opportunities to pursue active, healthy lifestyles in adaptive sports. The Rollin’ Hornets Junior Prep Team, comprised of athletes ages 9-13, took home the National Wheelchair Basketball Association Championship in 2018.

Partners for Parks provided the grant from the its “Paralympic Athletic Fund,” which was created with the residual of donations that were given to Partners for Parks to host the 2016 Paralympic Team Trials in Charlotte. This fund is designated to provide grants to groups like Abilities Unlimited and Rollin’ Hornets, along with other Paralympic sports including cycling and swimming. The grant will be used to support team travel, which can run into the thousands of dollars each year for trips to places like Birmingham, Atlanta, or Greenville, South Carolina.

“These kids are great kids, but because of their special physical situations, they can’t play like other kids,” says Youngblood. “The Rollin’ Hornets give them the chance to play with other kids.” Youngblood says the sportsmanship among players is fantastic and supportive. “Whether they’re scoring or not, they’re happy to be there playing.”

Brown agrees, saying the opportunity to award the grant during the Rollin’ Hornets’ fundraising tournament, the Hoopfest Shoot-A-Thon, drove their purpose home. “It was a great way to spend an afternoon, watching young athletes overcoming their disabilities,” he says. “It made my Christmas.” 

The young athletes are the next generation of Paralympians who will represent the United States in international competition. The community’s generosity can help them get there.

“We really appreciate the support from Partners for Parks,” says Mike Godsey, Founder and Head Coach of the Rollin’ Hornets and Director of Junior Programs for Abilities Unlimited. “Knowing they recognize our efforts in developing the next generation of Paralympic athletes is so refreshing!”

Youngblood agrees wholeheartedly. “You can’t find a better, more appreciative group of coaches and parents,” he says. “it’s great that Partners for Parks can partner with an organization that helps so many people.”

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