Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship Rolls Into Thunder Bay

By John Cameron……Thunder Bay will host the 2012 Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championship March 18 -25, 2012 at the Fort William Curling Club. Ten teams from across Canada will compete for the Canadian title with representatives from nine of 10 provinces and Northern Ontario. “The Canadian Curling Association’s wheelchair championship continues to grow as an event adding New Brunswick this year to bring the field to 10 teams,” said Danny Lamoureux, Director of Curling Club Development & Championship Services for the Canadian Curling Association. “We recognize the hard work of the Thunder Bay host committee in creating a first class experience for the more than 50 athletes expected here in March. The play on the ice and the camaraderie off the ice will be exceptional”, adds Lamoureux.

photo by Ron Jason

The Northern Ontario champion will be declared in Sudbury at the NOCA Wheelchair Curling Provincial January 27 -29, 2012 with a number of local Thunder Bay curlers competing for the title. They include Team Levesque: Carl Levesque, Rick Bell, Mel Prairie, Sharon LaFroye; Coach Dave Kawahara; Team Sonego: Gino Sonego, Richard Dawid, Terry Lynch, Linda Kontunen; Coach Mike Bergquist. The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company in partnership with Shoppers Home Health Care/Invacare are the presenting sponsors for the Canadian championships. Dave Baxter of Thunder Bay Insurance, the local provider for Dominion of Canada Insurance and Jim Crooks of Shoppers Home Healthcare say they are proud to support this national event. Local organizers have packages for other local sponsors to get on board and showcase Thunder Bay’s support for backing this championship event. Dave Kawahara, Chair for the Canadian championship has been working hard over the past five years to promote wheelchair curling in Thunder Bay, culminating in the Canadian championship event in March. Kawahara was instrumental in fund-raising efforts that resulted in the installation of the elevator to make the Fort William Curling Club a wheelchair accessible facility to host grassroots and competitive wheelchair curling events. “The Canadian championships is sure to create awareness for accessibility in our community by way our local facilities, transportation and volunteers manage the logistics of handling the wheelchair athletes and other participants for this high profile event,” said Kawahara. Volunteers are always key explained Kawahara, noting the host committee is actively recruiting people to assist with running the completion over nine days in March. People can sign up to volunteer by filling out forms at the Fort William Curling Club or calling for information at 622-5377. The City of Thunder Bay realizes the value that sports events like the Canadian Wheelchair championships bring to our community. “The spending of the participants, spectators, family and friends visiting the city generates economic activity in our city for a week,” said Keith Hobbs, Mayor of Thunder Bay “People are staying at local hotels, eating at our restaurants and shopping at local businesses during their stay, And the media attention events like this create, further promotes what Thunder Bay has to offer to host championship events,” added Hobbs. The Canadian Wheelchair Curling Championships began in 2004. The championships have been instrumental in growing the sport of wheelchair curling in communities across Canada. -30- The local host committee held a media launch for the event on Wednesday, January 18. Read the story from the Chronicle Journal.