Victoria stars change wheels for charity

Beginning June 8, Shelley Chaplin and Leanne Del Toso will be part of CyclePower Fiji 2013 where they will attempt to be the first ever tour group to ride the perimeter of Fiji with the aim of covering the distance in 10 days. 

The good friends are determined to complete the ride setting various goals along the way to help the local community, stopping at villages and schools to meet the locals and mentor those with disabilities. 

Reigning WNWBL Champion with Team Victoria, Chaplin – who was born with a disability that left her an incomplete paraplegic – will be attempting the ride from a handcycle. 

She has just come off an undefeated Round 1 with Team Victoria and wants to share the success she has achieved through wheelchair basketball as motivation for others. 

“Being introduced to wheelchair sports and in particular wheelchair basketball changed my life,” said Chaplin. 

“Playing wheelchair basketball has created opportunities for me to excel in sport, to represent my country and to chase adventures around the world.

“It is so important for people with disabilities to realise they can do anything and do not have to be limited by disability.” 

Del Toso developed a degenerative neurological condition at 19 that caused her to suffer muscle deterioration in both legs and hands, riding her bike with the help of specially made orthotics to support her legs. 

Del Toso, who also plays for Team Victoria, said the cause was close to her heart in helping change general misconceptions towards those with disabilities. 

“Sports for people with disabilities are not only important to the individual but also to the greater community who may also place limitations on people with disabilities,” Del Toso said. 

“We’re always looking to challenge ourselves as athletes, but also to challenge the way society thinks about people with disabilities.”

By participating in CyclePower Fiji the pair not only aim to raise money for the local population to buy much needed equipment, but hope to help reduce the stigma associated with disabilities through educational WheelTalk presentations and positive mentoring. 

To date, the pair has raised just over $10,000 and look set to beat their target of $13,000. 

To find out how you can support Leanne and Shelley with donations to raise awareness and promote healthy and active lifestyles for people with disabilities in Fiji click here.

For updates and to follow Leanne and Shelley’s progress click here.


Photo Credit to Rev William A Stewart


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