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Training centre grand opening next weekend

Signpost photo by Wendy Spence
Dave Willsie poses beside a weight machine in the new training facility on the second level of the FlightExec Centre specifically designed for elite level disabled athletes. The grand opening is Saturday, November 29.
by Wendy Spence

      Get ready for an evening of fun in celebration of the new training centre at the FlightExec Centre. A wheelchair rugby game, official ceremony and dance are all on tap next Saturday. Proceeds will help pay for the training facility on the second floor of the new section of the Dorchester arena.
      “It’s going to be a party,” says Dorchester resident and professional wheelchair rugby athlete Dave Willsie.
     The doors open for the game in the gym at 5 p.m. A number of Team Canada players will warm up at 6 for the game that starts at 6:30 with a split squad, featuring Willsie, Garrett Hickling and Zak Madell, who was named MVP at the world wheelchair rugby championships. Although it’s an exhibition game, the players won’t be holding back.
      “It’s for real, so it will be hard-hitting and fast,” explains Willsie.
      Following the game, dignitaries will be on hand for the ribbon cutting at 8 p.m. There will be a meet and greet with the athletes and tours of the centre.
      An age of majority dance goes from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. People will be able to bid on silent auction items. Willsie welcomes contributions. They can be dropped off at Lind Lumber, which is where tickets for the dance can be purchased in advance. Admission to the game is free.
     Many residents donated time, money and items to the training facility specially designed for disabled athletes to use, including the Canadian wheelchair rugby team, of which Willsie is a member.
     The non-profit Own the Podium organization and the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association donated special fitness equipment, including a two-person weightlifting station worth about $12,000 and a recumbent rowing machine valued at $4,000.
      The centre includes the training area and also a storage area for items including wheelchair rugby chairs and a workbench and tools. Willsie says the team members have to do work on the chairs on a regular basis.
      Residents can watch the wheelchair rugby athletes play every Saturday afternoon at the gym from 1 to 4 p.m.
      Council approved Willsie’s proposal for the 85-foot by 17-foot accessible training facility and 20-foot by 17-foot storage area across the track from the NBC Hockey League Blue Line room just over a year ago. There was no cost to the municipality because Willsie arranged the funding for the centre, which totalled about $75,000. Financial support is still needed. Email Willsie at:

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