In the Hinckley Elementary gym on a Tuesday night, one might find a group of energetic athletes. These athletes are members of Paradise Pride, a sports club for special athletes made up of about 22 total members from areas from Sandstone to Rush City.
Lori Patterson co-founded Paradise Pride ten years ago, inspired by her two sons, Daniel and Alex. Paradise Pride currently practices in the Hinckley Elementary gym on Tuesdays and the Rush City Elementary gym on Thursdays. Lori, Donna Armstrong and Joe Patterson are the present coaches. Volunteers include Jason, Emily and Trevor. The members have the opportunity to become volunteers and board members as well.
All ages and ranges of abilities are welcome to join Paradise Pride. The youngest member right now is 19, however, members can join at age seven. Once one joins, they can stay a member for life. The oldest member at the moment is 61 years young.
One of the group's members, Angela, found out about Paradise Pride three years ago when she saw a volunteer at the Walmart Photo Center printing pictures. She said, “I noticed her pictures were taken at my school. We started talking about Paradise Pride and she invited us to join. I became a member that week!”
Paradise Pride members come from different walks of life. Alisha, a member for four years, explained that she goes to college three days a week and also works at least four days a week. Daniel and Alex both work during the week, and Angela goes to school at the Pine County Transitions program at HFHS.
Members were asked what the greatest benefit was of being involved in Paradise Pride. According to Daniel and Alex, it’s “a piece of life that can be counted on and looked forward to without disappointment every week.”
“I get to look forward to getting together with all my teammates every week and being part of a team,” said Angela.
For Alisha, the greatest thing about joining this team is socialization and being active.
When asked about some of the activities they participate in, the group present said they play basketball, go bowling, go tubing and hold dances, among many other fun activities. Some of the other events include a Pirate Treasure Hunt, dances, radio commercials, snow tubing and sporting tournaments. The team also volunteers in the community.
“Paradise Pride gives our special needs community members a chance to be part of a team and build lifelong friendships while staying active and playing sports they enjoy,” said Armstrong.
Paradise Pride is a non-profit group. They partner with PHASE and are given donations by private sources and community organizations. One local group donates money specifically for the team to go on an annual helicopter ride. Paradise Pride doesn’t actively seek other donations at the moment, but Armstrong said they wouldn’t turn them down either.
Joining Paradise Pride
If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in joining Paradise Pride, you can call or text Donna at 320-385-0418 or show up at a practice. They meet Tuesdays in the Hinckley Elementary gym at 5:30 p.m. and Thursdays in the Rush City Elementary gym at 5 p.m.