Local power wheelchair soccer team needs help to get to Nationals

Tampa Thunder needs help from the community.

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. - The young Tampa athletes have a goal.  They've scored a trip to the Power Wheelchair National Championships in Minnesota, but they need to raise funds to cover their costs.

If you have a child athlete, you know how expensive it can be to travel to tournaments.  These athletes, who all have muscular dystrophy, have additional expenses.

Jamie Coton is a proud soccer mom to Ryan, the team goalie.  "Once we arrive there, we all have to rent vans.  Some of them have to rent hospital beds for their hotel rooms, lifts for them to be able to get around."

So far, the playbook for raising money has consisted of car washes and other community events.  They have raised hundreds of dollars themselves, but are short of the $5,000 they need.  

Captain Ben Carpenter explains why you should help them. "The Tampa Thunder should be helped because we are an organization that does as much as we can, not only to further ourselves as human beings and to further the team as a competitive organization, but we also do as much as possible to help out the community."

Call it the old give and go.  Jamie says, "We take food to Metropolitan Ministries every year.  We do 'Thunder gives back,' where we put together gift boxes to the soldiers. We do a food bank here in Safety Harbor."

Ben hopes winning a national championship will set a good example for the whole community. "Honestly, I think the example we're setting for others with disabilities is you can do anything you put your mind to. And for everybody else it's kind of along the same line. It's look at these kids with disabilities and see what they're able to accomplish. Think what you could possible accomplish. These kids don't have the use of their legs they kick the bar with the metal guard on the front of their chair. Think about the possibilities for you because you can kick."

If you'd like to help the Thunder you can learn more about their team on their web site at  tampathunder.org . You are also able to donate there, or contact Jamie Coton;  jcoton2@aol.com

Their trip is in June, so it's coming up quickly.

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