JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Brooks Ballers wheelchair basketball team will represent the Jacksonville area at nationals this weekend after the community rallied to help raise nearly $20,000 when the team lost its sponsor over coronavirus.
The Jacksonville-based team qualified for the 2020 National Wheelchair Basketball Association tournament March 12-14 in Wichita, Kansas, but according to a GoFundMe page, the team’s sponsor had to cancel its travel plans because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
The team said it needed to raise $20,000 in 24 hours to cover the traveling and tournament expenses for the whole team.
“A virus shouldn’t be what holds us back from achieving our goals," the team wrote.
The community agreed and pushed the team over the speedbump -- and straight to the national tournament!
“We will have a full team at Nationals, that’s all because of you!” the team wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page. “We thank you for your continued support. We will keep you updated with our travels and our results at nationals. You are all part of the team now. Welcome to the Brooks Ballers!”
One anonymous donor gave $10,000 according to the GoFundMe page, and the rest came from nearly 100 donors who contributed what they could.
The Ballers had raised $17,695 as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. They said they still hope to get all the way to their $20,000 goal to help cover the whole team’s travel, but what they’ve raised so far was enough to take most of the team.
Some of the team flew out together Wednesday, others will be driving and some will take different flights, but they will have a full team for the tournament.
“We are going to give it everything we got so we can win for you all,” they wrote.
Players on the team, including former Jaguars player Richard Collier, volunteer their time and practice twice a week. The team, part of the Brooks Adaptive Sports Program, is currently ranked sixth nationally.