Graeme Murray doesn’t do anything half way.
With his hockey career now finished, the former Paralympic gold medalist currently has his sights set on establishing a network of sports camps for children with disabilities.
“When I was a kid growing up in a wheelchair I had to first commit to the program and buying and the equipment so that I could play,” says Murray, who lives and works in Gravenhurst. “Whether it’s sledge hockey, rowing, tennis – for any adaptive sport they require some sort of adaptive equipment to play. That meant a significant time commitment from me and my parents but also a financial commitment, and not everyone has that.”
To that end, Murray has spent months working on the creation of a not-for-profit organization he’s calling Accomplish Today. The short term goal is to finance a week long overnight, multisport camp where youth with disabilities can come to south Muskoka and take part in a number of different sports that they might not have the opportunity to play at home.
“To start the idea is to do one camp to prove the concept and then expand to multiple weeks, seasonal camps and then hopefully spread out across Muskoka, the province and then across the country,” says Murray, a 2006 Paralympic gold medallist and two-time IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship gold medallist. “We’ll start small and feasible and grow from there.”
Murray says events in the Gravenhurst area could include sledge hockey at the accessible arena that bears his name, kayaking, paddle boarding and water skiing.
“The idea is to have a different sport every day that they can get into,” he says. “On top of that there’s a social component that I’m really keen on. There will be components of them cooking for themselves, working together to cook meals for the group – basically things that ensure they’re capable of being independent.”
Bringing 12 campers to Muskoka for five days would be an ideal start, says Murray, and he estimates a conservative price tag at $20,000 to $25,000. To help make it a reality, Murray hopes to partner with corporate sponsors and get fundraisers going this summer for Accomplish Today to spread the word and raise money.
Murray had hoped to raise the funds by the end of the summer but after getting bogged down in the paperwork associated with creating a not-for-profit organization, Murray says a summer 2017 target for raising the money is more likely.
Either way Murray feels like Muskoka has the ability and the enthusiasm to help make his dream a reality.
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