Red Deer Reapers: Making an Impact in Alberta

The Red Deer Reapers is a brand new wheelchair rugby team in Alberta that has been making waves in the community. We had the opportunity to speak with Gerry Kress, the founder of the team, to learn more about their journey and the impact they’re making.

Gerry Kress, who has previous experience setting up clubs, shared his motivation for starting the Red Deer Reapers: “I think [wheelchair rugby] changes lives. You know, a rugby club where people can get together and build camaraderie. Seeing other people in similar situations and looking at the skill level other people have in day-to-day things, I think it changes people’s lives.”

Recently, the Red Deer Reapers had the opportunity to assist in an exciting event organized by the Edmonton Steel Wheels Wheelchair Rugby Team and the Calgary Inferno Wheelchair Rugby. With the help of Wheelchair Rugby Canada both Calgary and Edmonton teams received a Participaction Community Challenge grant.

This grant enabled the organization of a special jamboree-style event that took place on the weekend of June 24-25, 2023. The event was very exciting for the Red Deer Reapers, as founder Gerry Kress shared: “I think the event was a catalyst to putting [the team] over the top in terms of how many people are interested, where it’s going, and exposure to other organized groups in Alberta that are doing the same thing.” Additionally, Kress noted the impact the event had on bringing in new players: “I think we recruited a few extra players at the event. It really opened their eyes and I think we are going to see them coming back. So yeah, it had a good impact that way.”

Kress had a lot of good things to say about the wheelchair rugby community he has been apart of for over 20 years; he expressed how the sport has opened his eyes to new perspectives, stating, “A lot of times when you get hurt, you’re kind of isolated. You’re around family and friends that you had before, and you’re not normally around people that are in a wheelchair or in the same situation as you are.” Kress shared an inspiring example of one teammate who, despite having good upper functions, was motivated to improve after witnessing others with less function do a lot more things than him. He went on to share the impact it has on friends and family as well; he said when they see their loved one do something like play wheelchair rugby it changes the whole family, not just the individual.

Kress also highlighted the inclusive nature of wheelchair rugby, stating, “Everybody new is welcome.” In particular, the classification system in the sport ensures that teams are made up of players with various levels of function. Kress noted the team’s appreciation for individuals with lower functions, saying, “When you see someone with a lower function, we’re actually happy to see them.”

If you are interested in getting involved with the team either playing or as a volunteer, you can email Gerry Kress directly @

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