BAS­KET­BALL HERO

Bonita busi­ness­man shows oth­ers how to bounce back from life’s chal­lenges

RSWLiving - - Departments - BY DANA MIR­MAN

Mario Cas­tro was just 16 when a car ac­ci­dent forced him to rely on a wheel­chair for mo­bil­ity. “When you get hurt, you need to find your­self again, and just to get over the feel­ings of ‘I can’t be­lieve this hap­pened to me,’ and learn to be able to func­tion in ev­ery­day life,” the Bonita busi­ness­man says of re­bound­ing from the ini­tial shock of his 1997 traf­fic ac­ci­dent.

A high school bas­ket­ball player, soon Cas­tro was back on the court, now as a mem­ber of the Gulf Coast Bar­racu­das, a wheel­chair bas­ket­ball team. To­day, Cas­tro is a sea­soned player and ad­vo­cate for those over­com­ing phys­i­cal chal­lenges. “Bas­ket­ball is great ex­er­cise and it’s great for peo­ple to be able to play again and have that com­pet­i­tive spirit,” he says.

Wheel­chair avail­abil­ity shouldn’t limit in­volve­ment, he says: “We can pro­vide a chair for use on the team.”

The wheel­chair team is for those with dis­abil­i­ties age 16 and up. Prac­tices are Tues­days (6 to 9 p.m.) and Sun­days (9 to 11 a.m.) at the Es­tero Recre­ation Cen­ter. “It’s amaz­ing to re­al­ize how com­pet­i­tive the team is,” says Cas­tro, not­ing the Bar­racu­das play FGCU bas­ket­ball teams and oth­ers in wheel­chair chal­lenges. Most are sur­prised by the dif­fi­culty, he says.

In ad­di­tion to his work with the Gulf Coast Bar­racu­das, Cas­tro, the owner of Au­dio In­ter­ven­tions in Bonita Springs, speaks fre­quently on dis­abil­ity is­sues. He also vis­its Shriners Hos­pi­tals for Chil­dren. Show­ing kids how he has been able to ac­com­plish his goals, says Cas­tro, makes him seem like a “su­per­hero to them.”

Dana Mir­man is a free­lance writer and tele­vi­sion pro­ducer.

Mario Cas­tro (above) of­ten talks to kids about dis­abil­ity is­sues. FGCU hoop­sters (be­low left) are sur­prised by the dif­fi­culty of play­ing seated. Prac­tice (be­low right) is at the Es­tero Rec Cen­ter.

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