NEWS

Défi Sportif losing $45K in funding for province-wide competition

07/29/2015 09:39 EDT | Updated 07/29/2016 05:59 EDT
Part of the funding for a popular annual sports competition in Quebec will dry up at the end of 2016, and now officials with Défi Sportif are trying to find new money to replace it.

More than 100 schools across the province take part in the competition for school-aged children with physical and intellectual disabilities.

They compete in everything from basketball to rhythmic gymnastics.

However, $45,000 of funding from the government agency Québec en Forme, which pays to help bus students to the event has been slashed.

Now the organization is scrambling to find money to replace it. The group worries without the money, many students won't be able to attend.

"I don't even want to think about it. I'm sure we'll be able to manage and find some way. Where there's a will, there's a way," said Annie Vincelli, Défi Sportif's operations director.

Benefits for participants

For the past five years, Jason De Biasi has competed in the 25-metre wheelchair event. He was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

"I feel like I am a role model to those kids who say, oh yeah, it's hard, I can't do it. Well, I say you can do it. And eventually you will get better at it, and you'll see there are good benefits coming out of it," he said.

De Biasi's dad, Rosario, said Défi Sportfi has given his son wings.

"Did you see the smile on his face? It's the smiles on his face. He gets up, he's more active, he's healthier. We don't go to the hospital as often," he said.

Police trying to help

Montreal police are doing a cycling fundraiser next month that will go directly to Défi Sportif's school program, but it's not expected to raise enough money to cover the full $45,000.

Denis Lalonde, a Montreal police officer, said the program is important for children with disabilities.

"Stopping that activity for them means a lot. It's the only event in the year that they are looking forward to and saying they won't be able to do it anymore… we can't even imagine it," he said.

Police say they're hoping to attract other donors or partners to help fundraise.

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