ROCKINGHAM — Sunday marked National Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) Day, and hundreds of Richmond County and surrounding county supporters came out to raise money and awareness for one of their own.
William Gates, a Rockingham native who has lived with the condition since birth, hosted his inaugural AMC Basketball Charity Tournament at Falling Creek Park in Rockingham. His goal was to help get the word out about the non-progressive condition that affects his range of motion with his joints, while also incorporating the sport he’s come to love.
And the sport that’s seen him explode on social media as a national sensation and dubbed him the nickname of “Disabled Shooter.”
According to the official AMC website, there are currently 400 variations of arthrogryposis, and there is no known cure for the condition. Gates explained that treatments and surgeries are ways to combat the limitations, having work personally done on his hips, feet and jaw.
But nothing was going to stop Gates from putting on a successful fundraiser, and that’s exactly what he got. A total of five teams and approximately 50 players competed in the day-long event, with hundreds of more spectators filling the stands.
By tournament’s end, Gates had raised over $700, all of which will be donated for AMC research and awareness.
“There were a lot of people who came out to play and watch the games today and that was really special,” Gates, 20, said after the tournament. “I was nervous about how it would turn out, but people really came through to support this and we had a lot of really good players in the games.”
The five teams were simply named for the color of their jerseys, and it was the “Yellow” team, based out of Asheboro, N.C., that took home the inaugural crown. They played the most games of any team on the day (5) and went 4-1 on the afternoon.
In the championship game, Yellow defeated “Red,” which had entered the matchup undefeated, 40-34, in two 15-minute halves. Members of the winning team were: Jordan Blackwell, Ryan Chisholm, Dayshun Jones, Antonio Lindsey, Mark Martin, Briant Person, Antonio Thomas and Daren Williams.
Championship Yellow team.
The Red team took runner-up and was comprised of several current and former Richmond Senior High School students. Representing that team were: Jakolbe Baldwin, Jamel Baldwin, Tyler Bass, CJ McDaniel, Xavier Pettigrew, Alex Quick, Exavion Quick and Leon Zeigler.
Gates also got in on the action, playing on the “Gray” team. Although Gates and company would see their hopeful title run come to an end against the Yellow team in the quarterfinals, Gates hit a couple of his trademark “walkaway” three-pointers.
“It means a lot to me that so many people came out to support this cause,” Gates said. “There are guys here from Asheboro and one kid is from Myrtle Beach, and a lot of them don’t know me (personally), but it says a lot that they want to help me out.
“The crowd was awesome,” he added. “It was really cool to hit a walkaway shot in my last game and hear the crowd go crazy. Today was all about having fun and helping a good cause.”
Gates added he “had a lot of help” in both organizing and executing the event. Domino’s Pizza was on hand to help provide concessions, while Ashleigh Larsen and Zane Ritter kept the scorebook and scoreboard for all the games. Also helping collect money and donations were Natalie Ritter and Madison Brigman.
Others Gates wished to thank were: John Carter, Kiyanna Elise, Marissa Grooms, Tony McRae, Ally Quick, John Ridge, Pamela Robinson, Cody Scott, Ron Tillman, and Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons, who helped provide security for the event.
Deeming the first AMC charity event “a success,” Gates is already “looking forward to next year,” which he hopes to be even bigger and better.
Runner-up Red team.