Pushing Yourself to the Next Level at Mary Free Bed’s Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new…

Fifty kids from Northern Michigan, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Chicago and Indiana participated in a one week camp held every summer– Mary Free Bed’s Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp.

Campers and staff alike look forward to it every year. Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital celebrated the camp’s 38th year, welcoming kids ages 7-18 of all abilities to play all different kinds of sports. Campers got to participate in sled hockey, basketball, tennis, dodgeball, team handball, hand cycling, and kayaking.

It’s a camp that not only teaches how to play sports-but is a learning experience for everyone the comes.

Maria Besta, the Manager of Recreational Therapy and Wheelchair Adaptive Sports at Mary Free Bed says, “I just love the fact that I can be involved in showing kids what’s out there for them. To me it’s not about the sport. To me it’s about, learning all the skills they learn while they’re here, and all the friendships that they make. The feeling of empowerment, that I can see. That they’ve changed throughout the course of the week.”

Making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, learning a new sport, and making lifelong memories along the way.

The sports camp is led by instructors who are also competitive wheelchair athletes, and dedicated role models to the kids.

Gabe Denbraber, a former camper and now instructor shares, “I just want these kids to know that a disability doesn’t define who you are, it just makes you the person that you want to become. To make sure these kids have someone to look up to. They don’t have to fall into the stigma of like, alright you’re just in a wheelchair so you can’t do much.”

For more information on Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports, CLICK HERE.


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