A celebrity kickoff for fitness fundraiser Children's Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent

The 20-year-old Chatham native was just named to the Canadian Sledge Hockey team. As a youngster, when he told his doctors he was going to play hockey, they said it would be physically impossible.
That's when he discovered sledge hockey through the Children's Treatment Centre.
"The opportunity that sledge hockey has given me has been incredible. I didn't know that there was a Team Canada, I was just playing because I loved the game," said Whitson.
The Children's Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent kicked off its Fitness Fun for All Kids fundraiser Thursday with a personal appearance from Whitson at the centre. They hope to raise $100,000. The money will facilitate the expansion of adapted sports programs to include not just hockey, baseball and sailing, but gymnastics, swimming, soccer, golf and dance and maintain it for years to come. The programs require therapists, support workers and modified equipment that can be costly.
"Children with physical disabilities deserve and require the wellness benefits of regular physical activity, but they have great difficulty participating in mainstream organized sports programs," said Art Stirling, executive director of the Foundation.
Whitson can attest to that. He attributes the pool programs and therapy he received at the centre for helping him attain his goals in his sport. He still uses many of the stretching and strengthening exercises he was taught as a youngster.
"Not only are sports programs fun, but they play a key role in a child's overall therapy regime, addressing goals such as balance, eye-hand coordination, motor skills development, concentration and endurance," said Donna Litwin-Makey, executive director of the centre.

"In addition to physical exercise, sports programs expose children to other positive attributes such as the importance of teamwork, fair play and good sportsmanship and the satisfaction of accomplishment," added Litwin-Makey.
Although Whitson will be busy training for the Vancouver Paralympic Winter Games in March, he's excited to do what he can for the program.
"To have all these other sports and programs and give opportunities to these kids – it's amazing. I love to do whatever I can to help out. If I wasn't in this in the beginning who knows where I'd be," said Whitson.
"They put a lot of work into me and it helped out, it paid off."