This year, Hooper Law and Wheelchair Basketball Canada announced the first ever Got What It Takes to Win Grant. Canadian youth were invited to get creative and tell their stories about why they love wheelchair basketball for the chance to win a new, customized Quickie All Court sport wheelchair.
Letters and videos came pouring in, but one applicant stood out above the rest. Sixteen year old Savannah Hunik both moved and inspired the selection committee. It was abundantly clear that Savannah was a fighter and a dreamer.
“I feel incredibly lucky to be the recipient of the first ever Hooper Law Got What It Takes To Win grant,” says Savannah. “I am extremely grateful for my new basketball chair and I can’t wait to start training in it. With a chair designed to fit me, I will be able to increase my speed, agility, shooting, and overall gameplay. Thank you Hooper Law!”
Robert Hooper, President of Hooper Law, presented the chair to Savannah at a national team program camp in Toronto on March 27, surrounded by the Senior Women’s National Team.
“Although all of the applicants have overcome an obstacle, it was Savannah’s drive and determination that stood out,” says Robert Hooper. “She is determined to turn her life circumstances into an opportunity and not see her situation as a deterrent to living life to the fullest.”
When Savannah was five years old, her teacher noticed that she had an uncommon way of walking. Three years later, she was diagnosed with Marquio Syndrome—a rare metabolic disorder. People with this disorder appear healthy at birth but later on present with spinal deformity, abnormal heart and skeletal development, and decreased mobility.
Two years after her diagnosis, Savannah was struggling with feelings of isolation. She questioned her self-identity. She watched as her brothers played sports and thought that this would be something she would never be able to do. That’s when her mother told her about wheelchair basketball. At the age of 10, Savannah nervously attended her first wheelchair basketball practice in Calgary. From that moment on, her life would change forever.
“During that time, I believed my disability to be something that should be hidden,” says Savannah. “But now, thanks in large part to wheelchair basketball, I celebrate the way I am daily, and I am proud of the way I approach difficulties in my life, as these challenges have truly shaped me into the person I am today.”
Her hard work, passion, and dedication led Savannah to become a national champion. Twice. Her home team, the Calgary Rollers, won the CWBL Women’s Nationals in 2017. And most recently, she represented Team Alberta in the 2018 Junior National Championships where she took home a gold medal. Needless to say, Savannah definitely has what it takes to win.
While Savannah isn’t busy being a national champion, or studying hard in school to pursue a career in psychiatry, she gives back to her community through coaching the minis program in Calgary every week—the same program in which she began her career.
So what’s next for Savannah? Her short-term goals include: making Team Alberta for the 2019 Canada Games; as well as making the Canadian U25 women’s team—stepping stones for her ultimate dream: representing Team Canada in the World Championships and Paralympics. With a new, customized chair, Savannah is one step closer to realizing that dream.
About Hooper Law
Hooper Law was founded in 2001 in Hamilton, Ontario. With decades of legal experience in protecting and promoting victims’ rights, the team of specialized personal injury lawyers and professional staff has a well-earned reputation for integrity and helping victims get the justice they deserve. The firm is dedicated to fighting successfully for the rights of people, and winning cases so clients and their loved ones can focus on rebuilding their lives. For more information visit www.fightforyou.ca.
Hooper Law is a proud partner of the Canadian Senior Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team.
About Wheelchair Basketball Canada
Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sports governing body responsible for the organization of the sport in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is committed to excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians from grassroots to high performance. Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport in which Canada is held in high esteem around the world for winning a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last seven Paralympic Games. For more information, please visit www.wheelchairbasketball.ca