Iowa Prep Sports Podcast

Rolling Panthers raising funds

Union photo by Doug Brenneman

People participate in a fundraiser Saturday for the Rolling Panthers at Wellman in the Parkside Recreation Center.
Union photo by Doug Brenneman People participate in a fundraiser Saturday for the Rolling Panthers at Wellman in the Parkside Recreation Center.
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WELLMAN — Saturday at the Parkside Activities Center able-bodied people sat in wheelchairs to raise money for the Rolling Panthers, an under age 13 wheelchair basketball team, which recently qualified for the national tournament.

The Rolling Panthers are ranked fifth in the nation.

Its members are Jayden Stafford of Wellman, Kerian Young of Cedar Falls, Zander Shaul of Des Moines, Aiden Fleetwood of Davenport, Ally Darter of Dubuque, Jonah Becker of Cedar Falls and Xavier Conlin of Cedar Falls.

AJ Fitzpatrick of Cedar Rapids, Sam Spore of Independence, Jenna Olerich of Charles City, Koda Beland of Cedar Falls are also members of the team but are 14-18 years of age. The younger members also play in the older age bracket.

“Today is about raising funds and educating people,” said Shelli Stafford, mother of Jayden. “These kids love it and I think people will too.”

She was busy collecting money and signing up members of eight teams who played each other Saturday.

“Everybody but my brother, who has played one other time, is experiencing this for the first time,” Shelli Stafford said. “There will be a lot of sore arms and blistered hands.”

Before the tournament, members of the Rolling Panthers showed the best way to pick up a basketball — trapping it against a wheel so that it rotates up. Playing defense consists of using the large wheels to stop other chairs. Players must dribble, but are allowed to pushes of the wheels before dribbling.