‘Awesome vibe’ at tournament to support teen

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It was play-it-forward time at the weekend, when a basketball tournament was held to raise money for teenager Ryan O’Rourke.

Ryan (17) has the motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy type three, which means he has to use a wheelchair.

The tournament for Ryan was organised by Glen Perkins.

Perkins said Ryan had spent many hours photographing Eastern Southland basketball games.

“We were aware of the fact he needed to raise money to get behind the wheel to get hand controls installed in his van, and we thought given the amount of time he has given to us it was a really nice way for the basketball family to help him,” he said.

It was not an official Eastern Southland tournament but “it was our Eastern Basketball family that were down there”.

“It was such a great atmosphere kind and so giving.”

There were five men’s and four women’s teams taking part in the tournament at Gore’s Archer Stadium.

St Peter’s Old Boys won the final against Ex Menzies in the men’s grade, and Hargest beat St Peter’s in the women’s grade.

Some players travelled from as far away as Christchurch to take part.

Businesses had been very generous in their support of the tournament and gave prizes for a raffle.

Ryan’s mother Colleen McKinnel said the family were overwhelmed by the support they had received.

“[We] felt like we have an awesome community around us and the whole weekend had an awesome vibe,” she said.

It was great to see everyone enjoying the basketball.

“The fact they were all prepared to come along and support Ryan was very humbling.”

It would cost $15,000 to install hand controls in Ryan’s vehicle.

“It’s challenging to come up with that sort of money all the time.”