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Eastern suburbs: Local firefighters partake in MDA fundraiser

Local firefighters played Power Soccer against middle school students in a actio-packed game held Saturday night at Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School. The final score was 13-7.

"They trampled us," said Shawn Tompkins, DeWitt firefighter.

Skyler Canute, a student at the school, has muscular dystrophy. He was the driving force behind the event that raised $1,700 toward the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"My mother Shawn and myself came up with the idea for the Power Soccer game," Canute said. "This was the very first year it was done, but many people want to make it an annual event."

Power Soccer is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. The four-person MDA team cruised the court in electric power chairs while firefighters kept up pace -- or tried to -- in manual ones. Tompkins said they spent 30 minutes practicing before the event.

"We had a bit of coaching from the Power Soccer team since we had no idea what we were doing," he said.

Jason Green, Jamie Pienkowski, Gerry Serlin and Tompkins comprised the DeWitt Fire Department team. Firefighters Jeff Jones, Mike O'Connor, Tim McKennan and Jason Hulchanski formed the Fayetteville four.

The seven members for MDA included Matthew Anderson, Andrew Cunningham, Payton Sefick, Tony Ruyper, Anthony Guarino, Cassandra Reinhart and Canute.

The teams played one game with two 25-minute halves. During halftime, 10 names were drawn to attempt to score a goal on Canute.

"There was a great turnout," Tompkins said. "We really appreciate the support. We are talking about a rematch next year but we will definitely need a larger venue."

Canute was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) when he was 15 months old. SMA is a motor neuron disease that affects the voluntary muscles used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control and swallowing. According to curesma.org, about one in 6,000 babies born are affected, and about one in 40 people are genetic carriers.

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