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Wheelchair rugby to take over Ping

          Pick-up rugby teams from all throughout campus will take a seat to raise money for a local wheelchair rugby squad and to raise awareness about disabilities Saturday.

          Four-Play!, the fourth annual wheelchair rugby pay-to-play tournament, will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Charles J. Ping Student Recreation Center. The event will feature teams from throughout campus that have signed up to take on Buckeye Blitz, a semi-professional wheelchair rugby team based in Columbus.

          Event coordinators aim to raise $4,000 each year, about enough to buy a new wheelchair for the team and cover travel expenses, said Tara Cain, a graduate student studying physical therapy and one of the event's organizers. Elizabeth Winner and Kana Sekiguchi also helped organize the event and are graduate students studying physical therapy.

          "We anticipate it being bigger than it has been in the past," Cain said, noting a change in venue from the gym in Grover Center to Ping.

          After holding the tournament in Grover for the past 3 years, Sekiguchi said the ultimate goal is to keep the event growing in popularity, adding that so far 27 of 28 possible teams have registered to play against the Buckeye Blitz.

          "We just try to get the event to be more of a university-wide event," Sekiguchi said. "Hopefully, in the next few years, a whole lot more people know about it and get more teams to participate."

          Registration costs $100 for 30 minutes of playing time for a team of four to six participants.

          Physical therapy students started the fundraiser four years ago, and the idea stemmed from a class project, Cain said.

          "It was from a class they had had, in which we work with patients. ... A patient came in from Columbus who happened to play for Buckeye Blitz," Cain said.

          While event organizers have gotten off to a good start raising funds leading into Saturday, spectators will have an opportunity to donate at the event and participate in a raffle featuring items from throughout Athens, Cain said.

          "One of the big ways we raise money is the actual teams. ... Also, in the past, we've done some grilled cheese sales up on Court Street," Cain said. "(On the) day of, there are many opportunities for people to donate."


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