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A few students sit in front of a line of men in wheelchairs Jefferson occupational therapy students helped to raise over $3,000 for the Ruedas Sin Fronteras (Wheels Without Borders) wheelchair basketball team.

OT Students Raise Money for Wheelchair Basketball Team in Ecuador

While on clinical rotation in Ibarra, Ecuador, three Jefferson occupational therapy students made an instant connection with members of the Ruedas Sin Fronteras (Wheels Without Borders) wheelchair basketball team.

Introduced by their fieldwork coordinator, the trio played basketball with them and soon discovered they’ve been trying for four years to obtain the proper equipment to compete in basketball tournaments.

“Their special sports wheelchairs had been ordered, but they couldn’t be sent until they raised $3,000 needed for shipping costs,” says OTD student Gabby Santos ’20. “The team was so welcoming to us, so after spending the day with them, we wanted to help them in whatever way we could.”

Along with OTD student Liza Sherretta ’20 and MSOT student Margaret Chorlian ’19, Santos set up a GoFundMe page for the 20 men, who have sustained spinal cord injuries and other disabilities.

They hit their $3,000 goal within just a few weeks, and additional money now raised will go toward cushions, uniforms, paying for a coach, any needed repairs and funds to travel to tournaments.

“The Ruedas Sin Fronteras team is a wonderful group of men, and they’re extremely grateful for the assistance in achieving their dreams,” says Santos, who soon will return to the U.S. with Sherretta and Chorlian after a three-month clinical rotation.

In Ecuador, the students worked in a pediatric outpatient center that provides free OT services. They also helped adults with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities, as well as seniors living below the poverty line.  

The students’
GoFundMe page will be active until July 1. After then, contact Elaine Keane at crecerecuador@gmail.com to make donations.