Chesterfield dream house raffle supports wheelchair basketball
By: Carol Enright
When Karen Rainge describes her son, Nate, as a toddler, she sounds a familiar refrain for mothers of young boys.
“He was into everything,” she said. “He was up on counters, up on the beds, going down the stairs, flying down on his stomach.”
But Nate was born with spinal dysgenesis, a rare congenital disorder in which a segment of the spine and spinal cord fails to develop properly. So he was doing all that climbing and flying down the stairs without the use of his legs. Then, one day, when Nate was 3 years old, the family was watching the Chicago Bulls play on television.
“We were watching NBA basketball, and I said I wanted to do what they do – but I couldn’t,” Nate explained.
“He sat up in the middle of the room and said, ‘I’ll never be able to play basketball, because I’m in a wheelchair,’ which just floored me,” said Karen.
That motivated the Rainges to find a way for their son to play the game. They found the St. Louis Rolling Rams, a junior division wheelchair basketball team that practices at South County Technical School. At first, the Rainges brought 4-year-old Nate to a practice just to show him that he could play.
“As soon as he got there, we couldn’t get him off the court. He loved it,” said Karen.
That was 10 years ago. Today, Nate and his teammates are hoping the raffle of a Chesterfield “dream house” will raise a lot of money for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), the organization that makes the sport possible for more than 2,200 players on 205 teams across the country – including the junior St. Louis Rolling Rams, the championship division St. Louis Rolling Rams and eight collegiate teams including teams at the universities of Missouri and Illinois.
The St. Louis Dream House Raffle kicked off Jan. 28. Participants can buy $150 raffle tickets for a chance to win a $1.8 million house in Chesterfield or $1.3 million in cash – as well as 1,000 other prizes, including cars, jewelry and trips.
The 7,800-square-foot house, whose exact location is not being released, features five bedrooms, five baths, a gourmet chef’s kitchen and custom wine cellar.
Randy Schubert, the NWBA’s executive director, said the NWBA hopes to raise a million dollars through the raffle, but “it just depends on how many tickets are sold.”
He said the organization made a special commitment to the local team.
“They’ve been eligible to go to nationals the last three years, but, economically, have not been able to,” Schubert said. “So we’re going to help pay their way if they qualify to go to nationals.”
The NWBA National Championship Tournament is in Louisville, Ky., this year. With over 85 teams and 1,000 players, it will be the world’s largest wheelchair basketball tournament. Nate expects his team to qualify, but he has longer-term goals for the sport.
“I definitely want to go to the Paralympics,” he said.
To enter the St. Louis Dream House Raffle, go to StLouisRaffle.com or call (888) 316-5514. The raffle features three early-bird drawings for cash prizes of up to $25,000 for tickets purchased before March 1, March 29 and April 26. The deadline to purchase tickets for the grand prize drawing is May 24.